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JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng police have launched a massive manhunt following the murder of five patrons at a tavern in Freedom Park, Johannesburg.

Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters on Wednesday said the murders took place on Monday evening.  

"It is alleged that three armed suspects wearing balaclavas forced entry and stormed into Intaba Tavern, also known as Jabu's Tavern, near Parkway Drive in Freedom Park. They assaulted and robbed the 53-year-old tavern owner of an undisclosed amount of cash and his cellphone," said Peters.

"Further allegations indicate that the suspects then randomly fired shots, fatally wounding five male victims who were certified dead on the scene, while two other patrons, one male and one female, were rushed to hospital and discharged the following morning after receiving medical attention for injuries. Police officers who were patrolling the area escaped unharmed after random shots were allegedly also fired in their direction."

She said a state-owned vehicle was damaged as a result of the shooting.

"Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or has information that could lead to the apprehension of the suspects is urged to report to Eldorado Park SAPS or call the Crime Stop number 08600 10111, or give an anonymous tip-off on the MySAPS app, which can be downloaded onto any smartphone," said Peters.

She said police were also concerned about a video circulating online, supposedly captured by an unknown person, just moments after the shooting.

"The person who filmed the incident is called upon to contact the police as any piece of information could add value to the investigation," said Peters.

Gauteng police chief, lieutenant general Elias Mawela condemned the violence and vowed to intensify and heighten visibility around places of entertainment over the festive season. 

"Investigators must also work around the clock to ensure that the suspects are found and arrested," said Mawela.

African News Agency (ANA)