DURBAN - SOCIAL Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza has called on South Africans and the government to stop sugar-coating things and call a spade a spade concerning the Phoenix murders.
“What happened in Phoenix is a massacre. People should not beat around the bush about what massacre means. The brutal killing of many people deliberately is a massacre,” said Khoza.
It was “very hard to swallow” what had been heard and seen in Phoenix, she said.
“If you kill seven people in one family, that is a massacre. If you kill 10 people in different families in one go, that becomes a massacre.”
Khoza said her department had met the bereaved families and was providing psychosocial support to the affected families.
“People have been brutally murdered. Most of those killed were using public roads. How do you claim that you were defending your property when you attack people on a public road?”
She said some were killed while driving in the area looking for petrol.
“All those people were found murdered differently. Their bodies were even burnt.
“If you are to say you were protecting your property, then you shot a person. What is the need of chopping and burning that person with a tyre? What do you call that?”
Those involved in the Phoenix murders had committed criminal acts and must be arrested and punished for what they have done, she said.
A team of social workers would continue to help the affected families to come to terms with their ordeal, she added.
“There are children who witnessed how their parents were killed and that will live with them for life. Therefore, it is important that we work with them to accept what happened, hence the social workers will remain until these families are able to stand on their own.”
Social workers, she said, would also profile all affected families and continue providing assistance.
“Breadwinners were lost and we need to intervene continuously, as directed by Premier Sihle Zikalala.”
Khoza said people of all races needed to come together and condemn what happened in Phoenix.
Community Safety and Liaison MEC Peggy Nkonyeni said the government was still shocked that people were murdered in broad daylight while walking or driving on public roads.
The preliminary report showed that 40 bodies had been found scattered in Phoenix and surrounding areas since last week, she said.
“Reports suggest that there could be more bodies as now 28 families have been able to identify their loved ones,” Nkonyeni said.
At least 32 cases of murder were under investigation by a team of detectives set up last week by Police Minister Bheki Cele, she said.
Meanwhile, a civil rights organisation called African Ubuntu Society held a press briefing on Tuesday, demanding justice for the victims of the Phoenix murders.
Jackie Shandu, a convener, said on Wednesday they would march to the eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda’s office to submit a memorandum of demands.