Motive for massacre of 6 men at hostel a mystery

The killing of six men near a hostel in Soweto has left police searching for clues on the motive behind the massacre.

The mysterious gun attack on Sunday night left six men shot dead inside a bullet-riddled shack sandwiched between Jabulani Hostel and other shacks.

One man who survived the shooting is in hospital.

More than 30 cartridges were found on the scene where a blood-stained floor bore testimony to the killings.

The shooting which neighbours said took place around 9pm went undetected by law enforcement despite increased patrols of police and the army since the lockdown began.

All the deceased, according to police minister Bheki Cele, are from Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal and they knew each other.

Five of the men died on the scene, while the sixth died later in hospital.

The men were attacked, allegedly by three men with rifles and handguns.

Neighbours told Sowetan they were asleep when the shooting started but heard the gunshots.  A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said the seven men were apparently shoved into the shack before they were gunned down.

"One of the guys who survived told us that they were in Block 22 before they were brought to the shack and shot," said the neighbour.

He said the assailants were part of a larger group that had camped around the hostel but they did not know what could have been the reason for the killings.

"It was a large group of men. Most of them were on the outskirts of the hostel but only three of them were shot in the shack.

"Two of the deceased men were lying on the ground just outside, one was lying on top of the other while another one was lying on the bed and the other man on the floor," said the neighbour.

Bangiwe Mthombeni, a sister of one of the deceased, Sphe Mthombeni, 28, said they didn't understand why the group of men was massacred.

"We got a call at 10pm and they told us to get to the hostel because my brother was shot and killed. We got here and found his lifeless body on the floor inside the shack."

Mthombeni was living at the hostel.

"I can't describe what I saw. I don't know what happened," Bangiwe said.

Phindi Mchunu, a cousin of another deceased, Sipho Mvelase, 37, said they were still trying to process what happened.

"We got here and he was lying outside by the door. We don't know why he was killed as well. But he didn't deserve to be killed," Mchunu said.

Cele said the number of murder cases being investigated has risen since June 1.

"I get stats every morning and before, we could have about 30 people murdered nationally. But on June 1 we had 41 people murdered," Cele said.

"On Sunday there were 59 people murdered. It's a worrying trend."

Cele said investigations into the massacre were in the early stages.

"We are still trying to understand what happened but we will be making arrests.

"There were 10 of them [in the group of men attacked] but three left and went to the shops, while seven of them were shot," he said.

Police said they could not link the mass murders to the recent ones in KwaZulu-Natal but were looking at all avenues to try and crack the case.

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