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Melville shooting witness details how she managed to escape

Tayiba Barnwell managed to escape the New Year’s Day Melville shooting mostly unharmed, crawling out the back door to escape with her family.

Speaking to News24, 21-year-old Barnwell said she was still dealing with the trauma and shock of the incident.

Just an hour into the New Year, an unknown shooter in a black BMW SUV opened fire on patrons of Poppy’s restaurant in Melville, killing two women and injuring six others.

The motive is still unknown.

Barnwell said she arrived at Poppy’s at about 23:00 and had been dancing with her brother and cousin.

“There was a good family vibe at Poppy’s. No one appeared agitated nor were there any signs of any altercation or animosity.

“I cannot speak to what occurred earlier in the night but from the time we arrived there was nothing to suggest that something had occurred,” Barnwell said.

As Barnwell danced, she suddenly heard a “succession of loud bangs”.

“The restaurant was packed full of people dancing and wishing each other a Happy New Year.

“I assumed they were fireworks, which would be expected on New Year’s Eve,” she said.

But then her brother pulled her and her cousin down to the floor, telling them to stay down.

He clutched ‘what I thought was his leg’

She realised these were not fireworks but gunshots.

“A man crawled up to me clutching what I think was his leg and was asking for someone to phone an ambulance.

“We had fallen onto other people and I think on top of one of the women who had been shot. I froze in shock and couldn’t really move,” she said.

“There was so much blood and confusion that I didn’t know if it was my blood or one of my family members.”

After making sure her family members were not injured, the three crawled to the back of the restaurant over broken glass and bolted for the door.

“As we left, we saw the two women who had been shot and paramedics conducting CPR on one of the women,” Barnwell recalled.

Barnwell and her family managed to escape but she says, looking back, she is still confused.

“To me it does not make sense that someone would fire randomly into a restaurant if they were targeting someone with whom they had had a fight. The attack seemed too random.

“I have lots of questions about why someone would harm an innocent group of people who were celebrating the New Year. There were families, just like mine, who were just having a good time,” she said.

Police are still conducting their investigation into the shooting.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said they were close to cracking the case, revealing that the number plates of the car had been cloned.

Police are offering a cash reward to anyone with information which could lead to the arrest of the perpetrators.

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