JOHANNESBURG – Five people were killed and 17 injured at a traditional ceremony in a South African village when gunmen, thought to be from a rival group in the local tribe, opened fire on the crowd, police said on Monday.
Local media said the assailants were known to the victims who were holding a coming of age ceremony for two women at the weekend near Sundumbili in KwaZulu-Natal province, about 470 km (290 miles) southeast of Johannesburg.
The motive for the shooting was not clear but, coming weeks after an African National Congress official was killed in the province, it raised concerns of a resurgence of political violence there.
“This was not a faction fight between two regions. These were people from exactly the same area,” Prince Nkosinathi Zulu, a traditional leader, told The Witness newspaper.
Provincial Police Commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni said: “I am confident that we will bring the perpetrators to book.”
“There is no place in society today for people who can butcher innocent people without batting an eyelid.”
KwaZulu-Natal, home of President Jacob Zuma, was the scene of bloody fighting in the lead up to South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994 as rivals in the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party killed each other.
In June a city councilman was gunned down outside his house, a murder the ANC said was politically motivated.
Police said the village shooting took place at a homestead on top of a hill so remote it can only be reached by a 45 minute climb.
“Between these two families, there has been a lot of bad blood,” Nhlanhlakayifani Shandu, a tribal leader, told The Witness.