Durban - Six men charged in relation to a murder during the July unrest in Phoenix, north of Durban, appeared briefly in the Durban High Court on Monday.
Ravine Naidoo, Trevor Gopal, Shaheen Gopal, Julian Maharaj, Tyreece Govender and Timothy Govender are charged with murder, attempted murder, robbery with aggravated circumstances, and public violence.
The men collectively face 10 charges, contravention of section 18 (b) of the Riotous Assemblies Act 17 of 1956- incitement to commit public violence (applicable to Trevor Gopal only), murder, and five attempted murders, robbery with aggravated circumstances, malicious damage to property and public violence.
It is alleged that on or about July 12, at or near Tees Tavern in Grove End Road in Phoenix, the accused did unlawfully and intentionally incite his security guards and members of the public to unlawfully and intentionally commit acts of public violence.
They are alleged to have killed Njabulo Allen Dlamini and attempted to kill Sanele Sandile Sambo and Nkosikhona Madlala by hitting them with golf sticks, baseball bats and a sjambok. They allegedly placed wooden pallets on the men and allegedly poured liquid fuel on them with the intent to burn them alive.
They are also alleged to have attempted to kill Mthobisi Ntuli by hitting him with golf sticks, baseball bats, an iron rod and sjambok on the head and all over his body.
It alleged that the men also attempted to kill Linda Khawula by hitting her with a sjambok and sticks on her head, mouth, buttocks, and all over her body.
They are also alleged to have attempted to kill Sanele Merase in a similar manner as the others.
It is further alleged that the men assaulted Madlala and then, with force and violence, took the following items from him: a silver fossil wristwatch, a brown Christian Dior leather side bag, a pair of Zara boots, 2x silver necklace, and an orange woolen hat, a Nokia 201 cellphone, a Huawei Y5 cellphone and R270 cash, with the aggravating circumstances being the infliction of grievous bodily harm.
The men are also alleged to have damaged a Toyota Quantum minibus taxi valued at R600 000 by setting it alight. The vehicle, at the time, had been in Merase’s possession, and the alleged intent was to injure him inside the said property.
The accused and diverse other persons numbering 20 or thereabout did unlawfully assemble with the intent to forcibly disturb public peace or security to invade the rights of other persons, and the said persons acting together gathered at Tees Tavern and attacked the six occupants of the Toyota Quantum minibus taxi, which were Dlamini, Merase, Madlala, Khawula, Ntuli, and Sambo.
It is alleged that on the day of the unrest on July 12, Trevor Gopal had addressed his co-accused, his security guards, and some members of the community outside his tavern to attack black Africans.
Their matter was postponed to July 25 for statements.
All six men are currently out on bail.
In a report about the July 2021 Unrest, Police Minister Bheki Cele said Phoenix and its surroundings became the epicentre of heinous crimes.
He reported that on July 12, 2021, the community members in Phoenix set up blockades and patrolled the neighbourhood streets after the start of mass looting and unrest in Durban.
Some people in that community set up armed checkpoints at strategic access points to the area.
The report stated the situation rapidly deteriorated, and soon the streets of Phoenix became scenes of crime.
The problem started when some people operating the checkpoints turned to vigilantism and started racially profiling people, preventing them entry into the suburb, Cele wrote.
“This amounted to unlawful discrimination and a restriction of movement for mainly African people,” Cele said.