Police in South Africa are on the hunt for suspects after nine people were killed in separate shooting incidents in two provinces in the country on Saturday night, law enforcement said.
The latest slew of shootings comes on the heels of an uptick in violent deaths in a country with one of the world’s highest murder rates.
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Four people were shot and two more were injured in the Thembelihle informal settlement, a southern suburb of Johannesburg.
Preliminary investigation suggests that a group of men was playing dice on a street corner, at approximately 7:30pm (17:30 GMT) on Saturday, when they were attacked by unknown assailants who shot at them, the authorities said in a statement.
“Four people were certified dead on the scene on Saturday while two people were taken to the nearest medical care centre after sustaining gunshot wounds,” the police said on Sunday.
Regional Police Commissioner Elias Mawela called the crime scene “horrific”.
“They were seated. They were attacked for no apparent reason,” he said.
In a separate incident also in Thembelihle, a 36-year-old man who appeared to have been robbed of his belongings, including a mobile phone and a bicycle, was found shot dead, they added.
Police said that the motive for the shootings cannot be confirmed at this stage.
Meanwhile in the Western Cape province, police have launched an investigation into the circumstances of a triple murder on Saturday night in Khayelitsha township. A fourth murder was an unrelated incident, Colonel Andre Traut said.
On Friday, eight suspects linked to the “random” separate shooting and robbery incidents of six people on Thursday night at the Alexandra township in Johannesburg were arrested, officials said.
It was not yet clear whether the suspects in the Alexandra shooting were in the same group that carried out all the killings.
About 20,000 people are murdered in South Africa every year out of a population of about 60 million.