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Cape Town - Witnesses at Cape Town International Airport have spoken of the terror that gripped the travel hub after gunshots rang through the airport on Wednesday night – leaving a man dead and his girlfriend fighting for her life.
Two other people were wounded.
The volley of shots sounded shortly after 6pm on the mezzanine floor above the check-in hall on the airport’s first floor. There are at least four restaurants on the mezzanine, including KFC, Wimpy, Primi and Ocean Basket, outside which the drama erupted. Police cordoned off the area as well as the escalators leading to the restaurants.
There were reports the man was an off-duty policeman, and that he had shot his partner, who worked at Ocean Basket, before shooting himself.
Flights were not affected. On its official Twitter account, the airport said “other airport operations have not been affected”.
Airports Company SA (Acsa) spokeswoman Deidre Davids and police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk confirmed on Wednesday night that one person had died and three had been wounded.
It was not clear, however, whether the additional two were staff or patrons.
Speaking at about 8pm Van Wyk said three people had been taken to hospital.
“That is the preliminary information. I am on my way to the airport.”
A staffer at one of the stores in the area, who asked not to be named, told the Cape Argus: “I heard the gunshots – I thought maybe it was robbers. Customers and workers were running screaming out of the restaurant.”
The staffer later realised a man had shot his girlfriend just outside the restaurant.
A source in the security industry told the Cape Argus the man was an off-duty policeman and the woman had been his girlfriend – but this was not officially confirmed.
The alleged policeman was said to be from Lentegeur in Mitchells Plain.
“She worked behind the bar at Ocean Basket,” the staffer said. “There were three gunshots – one for the woman and two for himself.
“He’s lying there still – he’s wearing navy trousers.”
It was understood that the woman had been still been alive after the single bullet hit her. She was raced to hospital.
By late on Wednesday night, the restaurants on the mezzanine floor had all been ordered to shut.
“We’re all traumatised,” the staffer said.
“I couldn’t do my work… I just walked out. I couldn’t even look at the body… It was very, very stressful,” the shaken staffer said.
“We’re told it was a husband who shot his wife. She used to make sushi here in front.
“It’s a policeman, but he was not wearing uniform. When they took out his wallet they saw he was a policeman.
“It happened right here in front of us, in the shop. So we can’t go out until they’ve moved the body,” the staffer said.
By 8pm, staffers from some of the restaurants were still on the scene, many in a state of shock.
Staff had been told their stores would not re-open until Thursday.
Davids said airport operations had not been affected because the shooting happened in a smaller section of the airport. – Additional reporting by Natasha Bezuidenhout and Sapa