DURBAN - FAMILIES of those killed in Phoenix have cautiously welcomed the arrest of eight suspects.
Seven suspects are expected to appear in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Monday facing various charges, including murder, destruction of property and attempted murder.
The eighth suspect had already appeared in court and was released on bail, according to a police statement issued on Friday.
Ntwenhle Mhlongo, whose 19-year-old son, Sanele Mngomezulu, was among more than 20 people killed in Phoenix in the wake of violent protests and looting, said that while she appreciated the arrest of eight people thus far, she believed police had arrested a fraction of those involved.
Speaking during her son’s funeral in Amaoti on Sunday, Mhlongo said the survivors apparently told them they were attacked by a big group of people, not just eight, so the deceased’s families expected more suspects to be arrested.
She described the relationship she had with her son as that of brother and sister.
She told the mourners that Sanele never called her mother but always referred to her as s’khokho sami (my friend).
Mhlongo said every Father’s Day Sanele would wish her, too.
At first she shouted at him and said she was not lesbian but Sanele had explained to her that she was both a mother and father to him.
“We are happy to hear that there are people who have been arrested and charged for murdering my son, but we want to see more people being arrested. They were not just eight, they were many and armed, so police must continue arresting these criminals,” said Mhlongo.
Philisiwe Ngcobo, whose brother, 34-year-old Bhekinkosi Ngcobo, was also killed in Phoenix, called on police to make more arrests.
Her brother was buried on Saturday. She said her neighbour, who survived when both her brother and he were attacked, told her family that there were apparently between 15 and 20 attackers.
Ngcobo said the neighbour also alleged there were two policemen at the scene during the attack but they did nothing to stop the attackers.
“Those two police men did nothing to stop the killings but can at least speak to their conscience and point out my brother’s killers.”
More than 100 people were killed in Durban alone.
Meanwhile, Durban Solid Waste head Raymond Rampersad dismissed allegations that one of his department’s vans was used during the killings in Phoenix. He said the van, circulated on social media and associated with a picture of armed man, had never been in Phoenix during the riots and was cleared by police after its driver was taken in for questioning.