Affected families keep pouring in in numbers to identify bodies at the Phoenix mortuary this week. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)
Affected families keep pouring in in numbers to identify bodies at the Phoenix mortuary this week. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

Death toll from civil unrest rises to 337

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Jul 22, 2021

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The death toll from last week's unrest and looting has risen to 337, the government said on Thursday.

Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni provided an updated media briefing on the police's investigation into the unrest which affected Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

The minister said the latest death toll of 337 comprised 258 deaths in KZN and 79 in Gauteng.

The police are investigating 42 cases of murder in Gauteng and 37 inquest dockets have been opened. In KwaZulu-Natal, 171 cases of murder have been opened and 87 inquests filed.

Ntshavheni said currently there were no reports of unrest or disruptions in KZN or Gauteng.

And she urged the public not to listen to fake news that there was reported disruption on the N1 and N3 highways. She said the situation in the country remained calm.

On reports that there are unclaimed bodies at the KZN Phoenix mortuary, the minister said that was still under investigation.

She said the government had condemned, and would continue to condemn, the violence that had taken place in Phoenix. Whether it was linked to vigilantism was still under investigation.

The minister briefly addressed the topic of four people who had been arrested in KZN and Gauteng, saying these individuals were key players linked to the unrest, but she refused to provide more details.

These individuals – one a man from the West Rand on Gauteng – were arrested this week and last week.

She said law enforcement agencies were continuing to investigate the motives behind the unrest. She could not disclose any intelligence information that the government may have on the matter.

The SANDF is currently deployed, at a cost of over R600 million, in KZN and Gauteng to assist SAPS members.

The members have also been conducting search operations. Ntshavheni said the searches were in line with the law and the criminal procedure act – this was for both warrant and warrantless searches in certain areas.

Political Bureau

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