Three men appeared in the Verulam Magistrates Court in August 2021. The men were accused of murder and assault in relation to the attacks on people in Phoenix during the unrest. They were denied bail and will appear in court on September 15. Nqobile Mbonambi / African News Agency (ANA)
Three men appeared in the Verulam Magistrates Court in August 2021. The men were accused of murder and assault in relation to the attacks on people in Phoenix during the unrest. They were denied bail and will appear in court on September 15. Nqobile Mbonambi / African News Agency (ANA)

Police reveal security companies linked to Phoenix killings

By Willem Phungula Time of article published Sep 3, 2021

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REACTION Unit South Africa (RUSA) was among the seven security companies named as allegedly assisting vigilante groups in Phoenix during the July unrest that led to the death of 36 people in the suburb.

This was revealed to the Daily News by Police Ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba on Thursday.

RUSA is based in Verulam and is active in fighting crime in north Durban suburbs including Phoenix.

It was named alongside Royal Protection, Sealani Security and KZN VIP.

Although the police ministry said there were seven security companies being investigated for their alleged role in the mass killings, it could only provide the names of four security companies for now.

Police Minister Bheki Cele announced during his visit to the province on Thursday, that 20 more suspects linked to the civil unrest murders in Phoenix have been nabbed. This brings the total number of suspects arrested to 56. He said some of them were linked to six murders that took place in Phoenix.

The police said among the 20 suspects were security guards, who were employed by some of these security companies. They were expected to appear at the Verulam Magistrate’s Court soon.

Cele said the role of Phoenix police officers was also being investigated. It was alleged that security companies and police supplied illegal guns to the vigilante groups who manned entrances to Phoenix to prevent looting but ended up attacking black people, some of whom were coming from work.

Some of the people who were killed had gone to get petrol, since most of the garages had been closed.

KZN VIP Unit Director Glen Naidoo denied the allegations. He said his company never supported vigilantism from day one.

He said he would wait for the police investigations to be finalised.

RUSA spokesperson Prem Balram could not be reached for comment while Brandon Pillay, one of the officials of Sealani Security, said he would not comment because his company was not involved in the killings.

Roy Moodley said the company mentioned by police as Royal Protection was not his.

Phoenix Councillor Stanely Moonsamy, who has been vocal on the matter, said he was aware that the security companies were affected, and allegedly played a role in the murders, because “instead of protecting and assisting the police they decided to harm the people and caused divisions among the communities”. He had heard the names of the security companies being mentioned in court and he felt that the law must take its course. He also felt the victims and property owners should be compensated by government.

Meanwhile, on Friday, nine suspects are expected to return to court for the continuation of their bail hearing. Yubandra Govender, Rinesh Mohan, Mehmood Khan, McKallen Govender, Sholan Reddy, Khalil Mohamed, Christopher Pillay, Kirosh Maharaj and Sumeeth Maharaj are facing murder, attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and public violence.

The murder charge relates to the death of a man who was captured on CCTV footage at the garage on Northern Drive in Phoenix, fleeing the mob. The man later died.

The murders have raised racial tensions between Indians and the black community as most of the victims were from Bambayi, Amaoti and Zwelisha, which borders Phoenix.

This had prompted the government to deploy soldiers who were stationed at the Inanda-Phoenix border while police continued to patrol the area day and night. There were fears of an outbreak of racial conflict but the increasing number of arrests appeared to calm the situation as soldiers have started pulling out of the areas.

Most of the suspects were arrested with the help of CCTV footage that was obtained by police from the community who were against the killings. Many suspects have also been positively identified by witnesses.

Daily News

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