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Civil unrest: Families of 23 killed in Phoenix demand action

Premier Sihle Zikalala visited the bereaved families of the murdered men and women at the Faith in Jesus Ministries Church in Inanda on Tuesday. Picture: Supplied

Premier Sihle Zikalala visited the bereaved families of the murdered men and women at the Faith in Jesus Ministries Church in Inanda on Tuesday. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 21, 2021


DURBAN - THE families of over 20 people killed in criminal and vigilante acts, allegedly fuelled by racial tension in Phoenix want police to collect the guns from residents and investigate them.

Premier Sihle Zikalala visited the bereaved families of the murdered men and women at the Faith in Jesus Ministries Church in Inanda on Tuesday.

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The families also expressed dissatisfaction after police reported that only one person thus far had been arrested in connection with the multiple killings. Philisiwe Ngcobo said her brother Bhekinkosi Ngcobo and five others were killed viciously with sharp objects.

“My brother went to fill fuel in Palmview, Phoenix. We never saw him again until we saw him at the mortuary. We were told that my brother and five others were killed and left in the same spot. The police told us that their case is being investigated separately, because they were not shot,” said Ngcobo.

She also said, as families, they needed closure and wanted the perpetrators arrested.

“It cannot be right that only one person was arrested after so many people were killed. We urge police to thoroughly investigate and arrest people who killed our loved ones,” said Ngcobo.

Another Amawoti resident said the victims’ families were unhappy with the slow progress of the investigation.

Nineteen-year-old Sanele Mngomezulu’s mother Ntwenhle Mhlongo said she was upset as the perpetrators who killed their loved ones were known to the community.

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“The government is quick to say they will reclaim the looted goods instead of going to Phoenix and collecting all the guns that killed our loved ones. I have little hope that they will arrest them,” she said.

Zikalala said the government was against what had happened in the province.

“A total of 22 people died. They did not get sick but died tragically after they were shot, stabbed and other vicious ways of being killed. Many say this was a massacre. This is because too many people died at once.”

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He said there were many signs of social ills in the community and unemployment, which meant many could be mobilised.

“That needed to be urgently addressed. Many black people were killed because of the colour of their skin. Their cars were torched, while others could not enter their homes because they were prevented from doing so.

“We would like to assure you, as the families, that whoever is responsible for the killings will be brought to book. If people were looting, they were supposed to be arrested, not killed. We need to address the issue of racism. We promise that we are going to be with you.”

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Zikalala said that as part of rebuilding, the communities needed to be involved in two programmes – one of moral regeneration and social cohesion and the second a community in dialogue spearheaded by the community safety department.

According to the premier, 23 people died in Phoenix, 13 in Chatsworth, while others were killed in Pietermaritzburg and a total of 220 people were killed in KZN.

A digital news platform reported that the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in KwaZulu-Natal said it would investigate the recent unrest that led to the death of 20 people in Phoenix. According to the report, SAHRC provincial manager advocate Lloyd Lotz said they had the powers to start dialogue with the community and address issues that might have led to the recent racial tensions.

Meanwhile, the escalating tension surrounding Wentworth could possibly be linked to the attempted murder of 13-year-old Virdean Stanley.

A stray bullet struck her on the forehead on Wednesday night while she was inside her home. Her father Dean Stanley said she was in hospital undergoing scans.

Virdean Stanley

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said the family were seated on the couch watching TV when gunshots were heard from Major Calvert Street. Gwala said several bullets were fired into the flat and the girl was shot in her head.

Gwala said five petrol bombs were found abandoned on a staircase at one of the flats. Stanley, who was still in a state of shock on Tuesday, said only after his daughter collapsed did they realise she was shot. He said the bullet penetrated her forehead on the right and exited on the left.

“We have had no interaction with her since because of Covid-19 restrictions. She had a fractured skull and air in her brain. My daughter was looking forward to school next week.

“During the course of the week, there were several shooting incidents. We are not sure if our incident was gang-related or because of the protests,” Stanley said.

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