Hillbrow theatre horror: ‘There were screams and then silence’

Hillbrow theatre horror: ‘There were screams and then silence’

Linda Mkhwanazi’s decision to have a quick rest during a weekend band session saved his life at Johannesburg’s Hillbrow Theatre.

Never, he said, in 15 years of working at the theatre, had he encountered anything like the shooting rampage that unfolded.

One theatregoer, Percy Ndlovu, died and seven people were injured when a man allegedly grabbed a microphone, announced a thief had stolen his phone and opened fire on the audience early on Sunday.

The alleged shooter was yesterday found under police guard at Tembisa hospital. He had been injured during his arrest for an attempted robbery at the Greenstone Mall.

Gauteng provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Deliwe de Lange said: “This has been the most horrible incident for the audience who were at the theatre to enjoy themselves. Police will never rest until the suspect gets what he deserves.”

The suspect will be charged with murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and possession of an unlicensed firearm.

During the theatre attack, a Zimbabwean band was playing on stage.

“I was tired so I moved my couch to a room further from the theatre as I was waiting for the show to end,” Mkhwanazi said yesterday.

“A while after I moved I heard gunshots. [I thought] it was on the next street because the theatre is the safest place in Hillbrow,” he said. “Eventually, I realised there were screams and then silence. I came out. I couldn’t believe it.”

Eyewitnesses described how a man got on stage and allegedly threatened that things would get bad if his missing cellphone was not returned. The audience laughed when he mentioned the phone may only be worth about R50 but it meant a lot to him. At that point he allegedly produced a gun and started shooting.

At the exact spot where Mkhwanazi’s couch had been earlier were two bullet holes in the wall – a chilling sight that made him realise he was lucky to be alive.

Patrons and staff discovered that one person had been killed only when a man, who was seated, failed to get up after the fracas.

Gerard Bester, director of the theatre, said said that closing the theatre was not an option.

The man who shot and killed one person and wounded seven others at the Hillbrow Theater is being held under police guard in hospital.

The 33-year-old was arrested at the Greenstone Mall on Sunday after he was allegedly involved in another crime on the same day.

Police are still looking for at least four of his alleged accomplices.

Spokesperson Lungelo Dlamini says the man is expected to appear in court soon.

“During his arrest, he was injured and was taken to hospital under police guard. While police were following up on information on a theater shooting, they identified the suspect at the hospital.”

BY KATHARINE CHILD, ANTHONY MOLYNEAUX AND KGAUGELO MASWENENG

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Nigerians in South Africa 1068 posts

We are about democracy, human rights, public opinion, political behavior, civil rights and policy aimed at improving the human condition, with a focus on African countries.

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