South Africa - Durban - 17 July 2021 - Police Minister Bheki Cele visits communities iat Shastri Park in Pheonix addressing the racial tensions after the looting that has plagued Durban and KZN since Monday. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency(ANA)
South Africa - Durban - 17 July 2021 - Police Minister Bheki Cele visits communities iat Shastri Park in Pheonix addressing the racial tensions after the looting that has plagued Durban and KZN since Monday. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency(ANA)

Victims tell how they were stopped at roadblocks, beaten and harassed

By Ntombi Nkosi Time of article published Jul 17, 2021

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BADLY injured Philani Chaji from Amaoti near Phoenix, north of Durban, could not contain his tears, telling Police Minister Bheki Cele about the pain he endured for something he said he did not do.

Cele and officials from KwaZulu-Natal visited communities of Bhambayi, Amaoti, Zwelisha and Phoenix to ensure calm was restored and maintained.

Chadi said on Monday when he learned of the unrest, he received a call from his partner and he asked a friend to accompany him to fetch her.

He said most of the roads to and from Phoenix were closed. He said they were stopped by a group of Indian people who did not ask where they were going and they were assaulted in front of police officers.

“As you can see I am crushed, my hand is not functioning well, my head is painful after a vigilante used a golf-club on my head and I was called a K* word. We survived by the love of God with my friend. They allowed Indian motorists to drive past but they were beating every black person who approached their makeshift roadblock. I was bleeding hard and was weak, I don't know how I got away,“ said Chaji.

Pholani Chaji from Maoti could not contain his tears in front of Police Minister Bheki Cele on Saturday. On Monday, he was asked by locals to help take a neighbour to the hospital and on their way he was assaulted and his car was set alight. Video: Ntombi Nkosi/IOL Political Bureau

Another victim said on Monday while driving into his community he met a number of locals with an unknown black man who was badly injured. They asked him to transport the man to Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital. While on the way he met a group of Indians.

“They approached and told me to open my car boot, I respected them and I did but they did not find anything, they then smashed my car. As I am talking to you I am in pain, I am hurt and my dignity was violated. I was pointed at with massive guns. As we speak I do not know where I would start to fix my car,” he said.

The victim expressed his pain saying that he was coming from work and his crime was trying to help a person from his neighbourhood.

Another victim, and CPF secretary in her area Zithobile Matyhobo, said she will never forget what happened to her and a woman who gave birth and due to the unrest lost her life.

She said on Thursday as a community leader and others went to look for a young man who is still missing today, she said Phoenix police helped her.

Matyhobo said there was a woman who after giving birth was unwell. She said she and another woman who was still traumatised had to accompany her to Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital at about 8pm. She said they were stopped by a group of people who threatened to burn them.

“I was holding a newborn baby, she was sitting at the back struggling to breathe. We started praying and crying and begging them, saying we are innocent women. We left the woman at the hospital around 11pm and going back we asked police to escort us, we were traumatised. Around 3am we received a call that the woman had died. We are left with a newborn baby that does not have a family. I can’t sleep, I am not coping,” cried Matyhobo.

Political Bureau

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