DURBAN - A TEAM of social workers has been dispatched to counsel those who have lost loved ones in the unrest in Zwelisha, Inanda, Amaoti, Bambayi and Phoenix two weeks ago.
Yesterday, KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Neliswa Peggy Nkonyeni, led a delegation made up of interfaith leaders during visits to families who had lost loved ones.
She said the team will also provide survivors with psychosocial support, social relief of distress, and other government interventions.
"At least 32 cases of murder are under investigation by the team of specialised detectives set up by Police Minister, General Bheki Cele, last week.
The preliminary report shows that 40 bodies had been found scattered in Phoenix and surrounding areas since last week. Reports suggest that there could more bodies as now 28 families have been able to identify their loved ones," the MEC said.
She urged families who still have missing relatives to contact police.
"We strongly believe that there are more people who are still unidentified. We are, therefore, calling upon families to report their missing members and to assist police with information which will lead to more arrests and convictions," she said.
The MEC expressed shock at hearing about people who were murdered in broad daylight while walking or driving on public roads.
She said provincial government has committed itself to working with the bereaved families to heal the wounds.
"We call on the communities to remain calm while the police are continuing with investigations. The arrest of 10 people linked to these murders should bring confidence to the public that our government is not sitting on its laurels, but working around the clock to ensure those involved in these brutal murders pay for their sins," she said.
MEC Khoza added that it is important for government to change how the Phoenix killings are categorised.
"We have seen a number of people who are dead in this incident. We should call this a massacre. It is very hard to swallow what we have heard and seen, people being murdered in cold blood. We met with the bereaved families, and as the Department of Social Development, we have a lot to do, especially providing psychosocial support to the affected families," she said.
Khoza said there were children who witnessed their parents being murdered, and that will remain with them for life.
"Therefore, it is important that we work with them to accept what happened, hence the social workers will remain until these families are able to stand on their own," she said.
Khoza said the team will need to profile all affected families and continue providing assistance.