DURBAN - PROVINCIAL and national leaders of the official opposition who visited communities affected by the violence that erupted during the civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng have condemned the killings that took place in some areas around Durban.
Speaking to the Daily News on Monday, DA provincial leader Francois Rogers said his party condemned all the killings that took place, not only the massacre in Phoenix.
He said more than 300 people died during the unrest in KZN and Gauteng but his party did not understand why police were only investigating the killings that took place in Phoenix.
“We want police to investigate all these killings. It happened across the province. No one is talking about 280 or more other people who died during the unrest.
“We know people are doing this because they want to fuel racial tensions. We want to know how each and every one died,” said Rogers.
DA national leader John Steenhuisen was expected to also visit Phoenix but because of flight delays he did not go there.
Instead he visited Dube Village Mall where some black-owned businesses were burned down.
Responding to questions, Steenhuisen said his party condemned the killings that took place in Phoenix “but it should be noted that it happened because police were not there”.
“There was no government for five days and in the absence of government vigilantism and lawlessness took place," he said.
Some of the Phoenix residents who spoke to the DA leaders said that they had acted in self-defence during the killings that took place during last month’s unrest.
In an apparent confession to the killings, some of the residents told the DA leadership that after the country’s law enforcement agencies failed to prevent or stop people who were coming to loot and destroy their properties, they were left with no choice but to defend themselves.
One Phoenix resident, Ridwaan Mahomed, said the Phoenix massacre would have been avoided if police had been present.
Mahomed said they saw a group of people coming towards them and it was clear that they were under attack, and they as residents decided to stand up and protect themselves and their properties.
“Police should be blamed for the killings that took place here because If they did their job there was no reason for us as community to even come out from our homes.
“We were let down by the police. I want to know what people expected us to do when our property and ourselves were attacked.
“I am not justifying the killings but it was unavoidable in that situation. It is so unfortunate that in the process of defending ourselves lives were lost,” said Mahomed.
Further, he said it was also wrong to call them “Indians”, as if they were still connected to India. He said they wanted to be known as South Africans because they were born and raised in the country and most of them had never been to India.
“I don’t have relatives in India and don’t know anyone there so I don’t think it is correct to always refer to us as ’Indians’.
“We are South Africans. We were born and raised here,” he said.
Another resident, Clinton Chetty, said if there was evidence that innocent people were killed, then the law must take its course. He was of the view that the police also needed to be held accountable.
“We did not know how to handle that situation except for defending ourselves. We had no tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the people who were coming in big numbers. Police must take the blame for this, not the community who were left to fend for themselves,” said Chetty.
The DA had visited other areas like Inanda that were also affected by last month’s unrest.