​Deadly shooting targets New Year’s revellers in Melville

 

 

Two people were killed and six injured in a suspected drive-by shooting at a bar in the Johannesburg suburb of Melville. The attack at the popular Poppy’s restaurant and bar on 7th Street, happened shortly after 1am on January 1, according to the South African Police Service. The street was crowded with revellers ringing in the new year.

“It is reported that a BMW SUV approached…and suddenly, multiple shots were allegedly fired from the BMW at patrons who were sitting outside the restaurant. Eight people were shot, two of whom were declared dead at the scene, while six were rushed to nearby hospitals with two of the six in critical condition. Both the deceased were women aged between 30 and 40,” police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said in a statement.

In a media statement posted on Facebook, Poppy’s management said: “Poppy’s restaurant owner Ms J Raja experienced the most tragic event outside her restaurant on 7th Street, Melville, in the early hours of this morning. Two people were shot and killed in a drive-by shooting…Poppy’s management and staff are deeply saddened by this heart-rending incident and send [their] deepest and sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.” 

The restaurant will remain closed until further notice.

The Mail & Guardian arrived on the scene shortly before 3am. Boasting some of Johannesburg’s top nightlife spots, 7th Street — which would normally have been filled with New Year’s revellers at this time — was deserted except for police and emergency vehicles. Shaken staff from restaurants and clubs were making their way home. Several people had come to see if their family members or friends had been harmed. “I thought I heard the police say my friend’s name, I’m trying to confirm if it is her,” an onlooker said.


Gift Molaola was on the corner opposite Poppy’s, about 20 metres from the bar, when the attack happened. “It just happened out of thin air…at first we were not sure if it was fireworks or a gun. To confirm that it was a gun we saw people falling down.” He said he saw a friend of his, a car guard, get shot.

In the seconds after the attack, the street descended into chaos. “Everybody was panicking…there were a lot of people on the streets by that time, everybody was out of the restaurants after New Year’s, it was busy busy. I heard more than seven gunshots. I thought it was crackers before, but the sound is different. More like pop-pop-pop. That sound was repeated.”

He added: “People started diving down, others going for cover, others straight to their cars back home. It went empty, empty, empty.

The vehicle sped off in the direction of Campus Square.

Molaola believes the incident is linked to a fight that happened outside Poppy’s just minutes before. “I think this guy was trying to pay off his revenge. He was badly beaten. They even wanted to take his clothes off. They took off his belt, they beat him with his belt…he said ‘I’m coming back.’”

Another eyewitness confirmed seeing the fight happen.

Paul Selby, a guard with private security company Raid, was on the scene shortly after the attack. “One guy fought there, I think the bouncer took a guy out. Near Poppy’s there. I guess he left and they think it may be the same guy who came back,” he said. “It’s a drive by shooting…everybody is shocked that such a thing happened here. It’s not normal. Even the police said they have never witnessed such a crime [here].”

Police officers on the scene declined to speak to journalists.

Investigations are ongoing, and police have urged members of the public with information related to the incident to contact the crime stop number, 0860 01011, or by giving a tip-off on the MySAPS app. Witnesses can choose to remain anonymous.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Simon Allison
Simon Allison
Africa Editor for @MailandGuardian. Also @ISSAfrica.
Dhashen Moodley
Dhashen Moodley
Dhashen Moodley is a freelance podcast journalist based in Johannesburg.

Related stories

The Portfolio: Global Africa Lab

A project by Global Africa Lab explores the future of Black neighbourhoods affected by gentrification in New York City

Early-morning exercise: Jo’burg’s three golden hours

Under level four of the Covid-19 lockdown, the hours from 6am to 9am became the time when inner-city residents could use local parks to escape the nightmare around them

Foodies cook up feeding schemes

Despite the strain of lockdown, some restaurateurs are keeping bellies full

Not all of Jo’burg’s street traders can sell their wares under lockdown

Street traders are central to food security in Johannesburg. But since being declared an essential service under lockdown, street trade in South Africa’s biggest city has returned to uneven ground

What is this place?: The visual simulacrum of South Africa in the Covid-19 lockdown

Why is the visual depiction of this country in centre-left international online news publications so unrecognisable?

Virus shakes up taxi sector

Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown have continued to tear through profits in the taxi industry, requiring the sector to formulate a new approach for how it operates, even beyond the pandemic
Advertising

New education policy on gender violence released

Universities and other higher education institutions have to develop ways of preventing or dealing with rape and other damaging behaviour

Cambridge Food Jozini: Pandemic or not, the price-gouging continues

The Competition Commission has fined Cambridge Food Jozini for hiking the price of its maize meal during April

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday