Phoenix unrest: Cele gives update on deaths, arrests and firearms seized
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DURBAN - POLICE Minister Bheki Cele has confirmed that 36 people were killed and a further 22 suspects have been arrested following violent unrest in Phoenix three weeks ago.
This morning, Cele, accompanied by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala, provided an update on the work being done by police and peace committees in the wake of the violence.
Cele said that on July 12, residents set up patrols and barricades in an effort to protect their community.
"Some set up armed search points and the situation rapidly deteriorated, with some people being racially profiled at search points."
Cele said that amounted to illegal discrimination and restriction of movement for mainly African people.
He said a man was killed when a bakkie allegedly transporting looted items was stopped and searched.
It is alleged that four men in the bakkie fired shots at residents who then retaliated. The men alighted from the bakkie and fled into nearby bushes where one of them died from the gunshot wounds.
Cele said the incident was believed to have triggered a series of violent attacks, including the burning of vehicles, stabbings and assaults.
"It is alleged that at these road closures in Phoenix, some motorists were robbed and cars were ransacked.
“Irrespective of gender or age, some motorists were allegedly forcefully taken out of their motor vehicles and then assaulted with baseball bats, bricks and sticks. Some people were even butchered with bush knives and other sharp instruments."
He said 36 people were killed; 30 were shot, two were burnt, one was stabbed, one was run over and two were assaulted to death.
Police were investigating 52 cases in relation to the violence. A team of 31 experienced detectives were investigating.
Cele said 152 firearms had been confiscated from private security companies operating in the area while 112 illegal firearms were seized from Phoenix residents.
He reassured the community that calm had returned to the province.
"We have achieved this through collaborative efforts of multifaceted forces. This includes the SANDF giving support to the SAPS and its specialised units such as Public Order Police, Tactical Response Teams and Metro Police deployed daily to the areas of Phoenix, Bhambayi, Zwelitsha and uMaoti.
“However, despite that calm, we remain on high alert."