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Shot, beaten and laughed at – Phoenix unrest victim shares ordeal at SAHRC hearing

A resident from Ntuzuma in Durban, Ntethelelo Mkhize, 37, shows pictures of the injuries he sustained on July 12 at the hands of Indian men in Phoenix. Picture: Jehran Naidoo African News Agency (ANA)

A resident from Ntuzuma in Durban, Ntethelelo Mkhize, 37, shows pictures of the injuries he sustained on July 12 at the hands of Indian men in Phoenix. Picture: Jehran Naidoo African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 17, 2021


Durban - A shocking testimony given by victim Ntethelelo Mkhize, on the third day of the SA Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC) probe into the July unrest, explained how he was shot multiple times, beaten and laughed at by Indian men from Phoenix on July 12, when chaotic riots ensued across KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng.

Mkhize, a 37-year-old lecturer at a TVET college in Durban, said that on July 12, he and eight other friends were on their way back from a friend’s house near Cornubia when they were stopped, searched and shot at.

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Three of Mkhize’s friends, all of whom were travelling in his Nissan Hardbody at the time, died that day from injuries sustained at the hands of the Indian men and boys.

Despite being in an immense amount of pain from the four gunshot wounds, Mkhize gave a bone-chilling testimony to the commission about how he was played with by his attackers, who told him to run then chased him down with guns and axes.

He had images of the injuries, which the panel allowed the media to catch a glimpse of, as it would support his testimony. He also said the media did not properly portray the events that occurred in Phoenix and only showed black people looting and not being killed.

Mkhize had slipped in and out of consciousness since he was shot, after which he spent nearly a month in hospital, where he also went into a coma due to his injuries.

The 37-year-old also commented on the first witness for day 2 of the hearing, Sham Maharaj, a community activist from the newly made Phoenix Ubuntu Forum. He said Maharaj came to the hearing with his own intentions and purpose, because while violence unfolded in Phoenix at the time, the spirit of Ubuntu was nowhere to be seen.

“When we got to the first group, they stopped us, and checked what was in our vehicle. It annoyed me because I didn’t know why they would stop us. I drive a Nissan Hardbody, 2016 diesel. I think it was on Pineview Road, the investigating officer can confirm this. The manner that they requested to search the vehicle was laced with anger and insults.

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“They said we are Zuma’s people. To be honest I did not respond. They checked the vehicle, but after they didn’t find anything they said we could leave. A group of around 20 people had boys around the age of 12-14 years old. As I was moving, a younger gentleman hit the vehicle with an axe. That angered even the occupants that were in the car. There were nine of us in the bakkie.

“Others were carrying golf sticks, bush knives and guns. That’s when I saw them assaulting Mr Magwaza, because he was behind the car talking to the men. After they hit Nzuna, the one who seemed to be their leader, shot at him. There was a time that they were poking him with the firearm and putting it in his mouth. Nzuna was then shot.

“They were taking pictures and videos while this was happening. They told me to run to the river, run to the river. I tried to run and I fell, I was then shot again, for the third time, in my back. Next to my spinal cord.

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“The first two bullets came from the fat Indian guy. The other two were from another Indian who was fair in complexion.

“I tried to run until I landed on someone’s gate and screamed for help. A group of Indians came and asked me where I come from, who I am and where I work. It was the same people that were shooting and chasing me. After that I collapsed. I only regained consciousness when I was at a clinic in Phoenix. I don’t know how I got there,” Mkhize said.

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