Security expert criticises the language used to mobilise Phoenix community
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Durban: A security expert has criticised the language used by the owner of a private security company to mobilise the community to defend themselves in Phoenix.
Dr Guy Lamb, an expert from the University of Stellenbosch, said that while the video was not a clear incitement to violence, the manner in which it was delivered was problematic.
Glen Naidoo, the owner of KZN VIP Protection Services, allegedly instructed the groups of people who manned entrances and exit points in Phoenix during the unrest last week to join his defence force.
In a video, Naidoo informed Phoenix residents that he had formed a civil defence force and needed 20 to 30 people, but would be happy if he could get 50 to 100. He claimed that the police were under-resourced, and could not manage themselves.
"We will support you 100% in this because police stations have been overrun, and this is huge and detrimental," he said.
Further, he said that all points of entry and exit had to be manned, referring to the McDonalds intersection in Mt Edgecombe, Trade Centre intersection, Mamba stores, Bhambayi border, Besters, the area opposite Mandela Park and many more.
At each entry/exit point he specified the number of people he needed – between 20 and 50. In the video he said that opposite Mandela Park they were having problems with houses being attacked, residents being robbed and assaulted, etc.
"You must do whatever you think is right. You must do everything in your power now to assist and help the community. If you don't help yourselves, and you die, then that is your problem," Naidoo instructed.
He urged people to come out in numbers, and said he would support them.
"I am not interested in who you are, whether you are a gangster, you are a drug dealer, you are a law enforcement officer – we expect everybody to be there," he said.
When asked about this video, Naidoo said that he had instructed the people of Phoenix to block all entrances and exits. He said this was purely because there had been threats, and they were being attacked.
"The people heeded my call, but I was shocked by the violent killings in the area," he said. Naidoo added that those responsible for the killings should be brought to book. He denounced the vigilante behaviour, and urged those who had information on the killings to inform the police.
"I'm shocked that the police have not yet arrested anyone over the Phoenix killings," he said.
Dr Lamb found that the language Naidoo used was problematic.
"While mobilising people, he is also compelling them to defend themselves, and even telling them about the dire consequences of not doing so."
He felt that Naidoo's message could be taken as being quite inflammatory, and “could certainly, in some people's minds, be seen to condone this violence”.
"To organise people in what appears to be a civil militia, is highly problematic. I'm not sure what the legal implications of this are," he said.
Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) spokesperson Phumla Williams said it was illegal to incite people to acts of violence, “or even threaten people with violence on any platform”.
She urged those with information to report it to the police. GCIS is currently handling all media queries regarding last week’s unrest in KZN that led to 212 fatalities in the province. GCIS was asked if anyone had complained about or reported Naidoo’s video, but Williams only provided the above response.
Many people took to Twitter to voice their anger about this video and called for Naidoo to be arrested while some felt what he had done was no different to Ngizwe Mchunu.
"Imagine using gangsters to protect your community and giving them guns," wrote Knorrox @nyambose_nox.
[email protected] said Naidoo should be held liable for inciting violence and wanting to cause injury, bodily harm and threat to one's life “because it's indeed a criminal offence which is now recognised by law in our supreme constitution”.
The Daily News