A former white policeman laughed as he walked along a downtown Pretoria street, casually shooting to death six blacks and wounding 16, witnesses said today.
Three of the people injured Tuesday in Pretoria died in a hospital overnight, raising the death toll to four men and two women, police said. The gunman, identified as Barend Strydom, 23, surrendered to two black policemen after the shooting spree.
Police said he had resigned in February after an internal investigation found him guilty of “improper behavior” that included “possession of radical right-wing documents.” Minister of Law and Order Adriaan Vlok said Strydom is a member of the neo-Nazi Afrikaner Resistance Movement.
“I saw a stockily built man, smiling and laughing and wearing a camouflage jacket walk up to people on the square brandishing a pistol,” said Igshaan Hoosen, a white radio shop salesman who said he saw the gunman get out of a van and begin the shootings.
“He walked over to a woman, pointed a pistol at her body and shot her in the side. Her little boy stood there dumbstruck,” Hoosen said. “Then he turned the pistol on two men standing on either side of the woman and shot them.”
Laughing openly, the gunman then walked along the street in front of the State Theater, Hoosen said, ignoring whites and picking out blacks as targets.
“He snapped off a shot at the entrance and then his attention was caught by a black man walking toward him. He walked up to the man, still smiling, and shot him in the head. Then he sauntered up to an elderly black street cleaner who was standing transfixed in shock. The gunman shot him at point-blank range, too,” he said.
Hoosen said the gunman then calmly removed the empty clip from his 9-mm. automatic pistol, took a new magazine from his pocket and reloaded. He walked two more blocks, where other witnesses said he continued to smile and fire random shots at blacks until he was apprehended.