Four killed, eight injured as gunmen open fire at night vigil in Free State

Four people were killed and eight injured in two early morning shootings near the rural Free State town of Fiksburg on Saturday.

The gunmen, who were concealed with blankets, first opened fire on mourners in a tent who were holding a night vigil, before they stormed a nearby house.

Police are now investigating whether the killings, which occurred in the Meqheleng area close to the Lesotho border, could be linked to an ongoing feud between musicians from Lesotho and South Africa.

Free State police spokesman, Brigadier Sam Makhele, said the motive for the killings was unknown.

“What we do know, and what detectives are looking at as a possible link, is that there is an ongoing feud in the area between musical recording groups from Lesotho and Gauteng. Investigations will look into whether the feud has had a role in the shootings or not and whether the two shootings can be linked.”

He said the first shooting occurred when gunmen, who were wearing blankets, stormed a tent where mourners were holding a night vigil.

“Two people in the tent were killed and six were wounded. An hour later gunmen attacked a nearby house where they killed another two people and wounded two others.

“All the wounded were taken to local hospital where they are being treated for their injuries.”

He said at this stage the identity of the gunmen were still unknown.

“Given the attire that they [the gunmen] were wearing, we are investigating whether they could be from Lesotho.”

Makhele said a specialised team, made up detectives and crime intelligence officers, were investigating the shootings, while tactical response team and public order policing officers had been deployed to the area to restore calm.

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