Student Mpilwenhle Khethukuthula Mchunu.
Student Mpilwenhle Khethukuthula Mchunu.

KZN Unrest: Religious leaders call for peace after Phoenix killings

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo, Nonhlanhla Nozizwe Hlatshwayo Time of article published Jul 22, 2021

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DURBAN - RELIGIOUS leaders in KwaZulu-Natal have expressed their condolences and offered prayers to the families who lost their loved ones in the recent violence in Phoenix, amid last week’s unrest.

The leaders marched to the local police station yesterday, calling for peace and demanding justice. The march came as the Durban University of Technology Student Representatives Council (SRC) confirmed that two university students were killed in incidents allegedly linked to racial tension in Phoenix.

The community, police and security companies have been accused of allegedly racially profiling black people at roadblocks, burning cars and killing people.

According to the DUT SRC, first-year industrial engineering student Andile Dlamini and first-year clothing and textile student Mpilwenhle Khethukuthula Mchunu died last week.

The church leaders marched to the Phoenix police station to hand their memorandum to the station commander. In their memorandum, the group called for the release of former president Jacob Zuma, who is serving a 15-month sentence at the Estcourt Correctional Service for contempt of court.

They said the trigger event of the unrest was Zuma’s incarceration.

One of the march organisers, Bishop Vusi Dube, said: “We are also calling for the perpetrators to hand themselves in, the same way people with looted goods are asked to take back the stolen goods.”

Dube called on the police to keep them updated about their investigations.

“We believe that the police must address the people and tell us how many arrests have been made. Lives cannot be lost without an investigation, otherwise this will tell people that it is okay to kill people, it will say lives don't matter.”

The KZN Christian Council’s (KZNCC) chief executive Douglas Dziva said: “The KZN church leaders group is mobilising to support the initiative to bring peace to the people who are conflicted. We are calling for organisations with expertise to provide counselling and healing for the affected families.”

According to the DUT SRC, Dlamini died in hospital after he was assaulted on July 14. Mchunu was shot dead.

Mchunu’s relatives said he would be laid to rest this Sunday.

Alan Khan, senior director of corporate affairs at DUT, said the events had resulted in a great loss to the DUT community, especially for their faculties and departments.

“We are shocked and deeply saddened by these tragedies. DUT would like to convey its sincere condolences to the family and friends of the students who tragically passed on,” said Khan.

Meanwhile the KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane has dismissed widespread reports concerning the number of bodies that are being kept at the Phoenix Medico-Legal Mortuary.

She stressed that the mortuary – which serves the wider eThekwini area and not just Phoenix – was currently processing the remains of 128 people and not 300 people as had been mentioned on some social media platforms.

She added that these bodies may not necessarily be linked to the civil unrest.

She said that the facility currently has 35 bodies that have not been identified and families needed to come forward.


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