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’There is something wrong with society,’ police commissioner tells SAHRC inquiry

KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi. Picture: Sizwe Ndingane

KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi. Picture: Sizwe Ndingane

Published Dec 2, 2021


DURBAN - KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi told the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Wednesday that there was something wrong with society, in reference to the July unrest.

Mkhwanazi said that the people making a fuss about the Phoenix massacre, in which 36 people were killed during the unrest, were the very same people who slaughter each other daily in the neighbouring town of Inanda.

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He was testifying before the SAHRC on Wednesday at its hearing into the causes and effects of the unrest, which broke out after the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma.

Mkhwanazi said officers were also traumatised after the unrest. He said the police are often blamed when suspects are let loose after their arrest, which is in the hands of the justice system.

He told the commission: “The question is, is the system working?”

Mkhwanazi said many of the people who were killed during the unrest would not have died had they stayed at home. He said police in KZN have about 12,000 officers who had to cover thousands of streets during the unrest yet were still criticised for their role.

“I ask when I present the crime stats in this province, how many prisons must we build in this country? Something is wrong with society. A majority of the people that are killed in KZN are killed when police are not there to see. They are killed in their homes.

“They fight over stupid things. We are talking about 36 murders that happened in Phoenix during that period. In this financial year since we started, from April to date, how many murders were recorded in Phoenix? You will be shocked,” Mkhwanazi told the commission.

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“The number of murders in Phoenix is not coming anywhere close to the next-door neighbour which is Inanda. Inanda is known for rapes and all these other crimes. The very same community that are crying about the murders that happened in Phoenix and yet they slaughter each other every single day,” he said.

Police statistics show that the Inanda police station recorded 231 murders in the 2019/2020 financial year. It featured in the top 10 stations in South Africa for most contact crimes and top 3 for murder.

A total of 115 murders were reported in the Kwamashu area during the same period.

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From April to June 2021, Inanda police station recorded 63 murders and ranked fourth in the country for most murders. Ntuzuma police station recorded 30, while Kwamashu recorded 23 during the same period.

Mkhwanazi’s role during the unrest had been questioned by former defence minister and current Speaker of the National Assembly Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Mapisa-Nqakula told the commission during her testimony last week that Mkhwanazi was unco-operative and that his ego got in the way. She told the commission that she had attended a series of meetings during the unrest at the SAPS provincial headquarters, but Mkhwanazi said this was a lie.

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“The minister arrived on the 15th (July) and went straight to the disaster management centre. We met there in the morning. The next time I saw the minister was during the visit of the state president, the following day. I assumed she came down for a visit that the president was doing the following day.

“Between the 15th until the 18th, I was still in the province. The minister did not attend a single meeting at the provincial office. She did not get any briefing from me or any team that we were working with as a joint structure. Other than the 15th, when I briefed them, she never came to the provincial office,” Mkhwanazi told advocate Smanga Sethene.

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Political Bureau