The survivor who did not want to be identified, cried openly while talking about what happened at Mdlalose Tavern in Soweto July, last year.
That night, he was at the bar when 11 people were shot and killed there. Some others died either on their way or in the hospital.
He said he didn’t know why he went there because he doesn’t drink alcohol. If he had stayed home, he wouldn’t have gotten hurt so bad.
The survivor was playing pool at the tavern in Nomzamo Park, Soweto when some guys with guns came in.
Without saying anything, the guys with guns started shooting at people who were drinking or playing pool.
The first ones to get hit were the people playing pool near the main door.
The 22-year-old survivor recalled that he was standing at the door with his friend.
The tavern was the only place in the community where people could have fun.
On that night, they had finished watching the game between the Springboks and Wales.
“I was visiting my mom that weekend. I decided to join my neighbours at Mdlalose Tavern to watch rugby and play pool.”
“It was a usual night with people talking about rugby and others dancing to traditional music. I was playing pool.”
“While we were standing by the pool table, those bad guys showed up carrying big guns like AK-47 rifles and pistols. They didn’t say anything. They shot at us with bullets.”
“I managed to run to a corner where most customers were lying down. They kept shooting until they ran out of bullets.”
He mentioned that the attackers continued using their pistols until they ran out of bullets once more.
“They confidently left while we were left crying, bleeding, injured, and dead” the survivor recounted.
According to him, it was the first time he witnessed people losing their lives.
“Their screams and the sounds of those struggling to breathe were overwhelming.”
He said he attempted to stand up, but it was extremely challenging.
“Blood was flowing down my back and legs. I couldn’t feel anything. It was too late. I crawled towards the exit and was carried into a car with the other wounded.”
“I woke up in a hospital bed. The doctors and nurses told me they had prayed for my survival. They did an amazing job of saving my life.”
“Then they delivered the heart-breaking news: I was fortunate to be alive. I had been shot six times with an AK-47, but I wouldn’t be able to walk again.”
Five months later, the young survivor made an incredible recovery and was able to walk with the help of crutches.
“My youth is gone. I can’t do the things I used to do anymore. I depend on someone to survive. The 16th of June means nothing to me. While my peers celebrate the day, I will be at home, thinking about that tragic day and the consequences I am living with.”
“I rely on my mother for many things. I can’t carry a bathtub filled with water. I can’t clean and cook like before. I have lost my job. I have no future. I am permanently disabled.”
“I rely on a disability grant, something I never thought I would need. My future and dreams have been shattered at a young age,” he said, mentioning that he struggled with nightmares.”
“At times, I’m afraid they might come back and finish off the survivors. They have already taken away my life.”
In the meantime, this week, the case against the six men accused of the deadly incident was dropped in the Orlando Magistrate’s Court, leaving the survivors and victims of the tavern massacre in shock.
Gauteng police head Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela assured that they were working diligently to reinstate the case in court.
“We will bring the matter back before the court,” he promised.
“We are still confident that we have arrested the right people. We are confident that we have arrested the right suspects. We just need to address the issues the court had identified,” Mawela added.