Phoenix community ‘ready to defend themselves’ against threats of violence

Police Minister Bheki Cele chatting to private security at Phoenix Plaza. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/African News Agency (ANA)

Police Minister Bheki Cele chatting to private security at Phoenix Plaza. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 19, 2023


Durban - Residents of Phoenix said they were ready to defend themselves if they became victims of the EFF protest action on Monday.

Hundreds of people met at the Rydalvale grounds on Thursday to discuss their plans should violence erupt during the march and spill into the community.

At a media briefing this week, EFF leader Julius Malema singled out Phoenix and told his supporters not to be shaken by opponents of the shutdown. Malema made reference to the Phoenix massacre of July 2021, during which at least 36 people were killed during the civil unrest. He added that protesters were “ready for Phoenix”.

The recording of his message which circulated on social media spurred community leaders to meet and discuss how to deal with possible attacks, while condemning a repeat of the July 2021 massacre. Omie Singh, president of the KwaZulu-Natal International Business Association (Kiba) and a former Member of Parliament, has been at the forefront of security planning in the area.

He said: “What Julius Malema is calling for is not wrong in terms of the load shedding crisis, unemployment, etc, but the way he is doing it is not right. He is a leader in Parliament of a political party.

People have voted for him and that’s where he has the opportunity to protest and say what he needs to say while the president is in Parliament. “He can’t be going into the streets calling for a national shutdown. This will cripple the economy. You don’t know what will happen by Tuesday or Wednesday and by the time you know it, the EFF would have started something and lost control of that which they have started.

“We need responsible leadership. He should be responsible enough to take his fight to Parliament.” Singh said Malema singling out Phoenix was unnecessary and was aimed at creating divisions among people in the community. Dinesh Pillay, chairperson of the Phoenix Community Policing Forum (CPF), said they had doubled the SAPS presence ahead of the shutdown.

“We are running two shifts from today through to Tuesday. Operations started on Friday. We also have excess members on standby should we need them.

We have mobilised our security companies and we have Popcru members on standby for the whole northern region,” said Pillay. He said he did not believe there would be any danger tomorrow. “As the CPF, we are ready and we are planning for the worst. Looting won’t happen in Phoenix. We have a strong force in Phoenix. It is noted that this is not a march, this is a protest so they are not allowed to march through Phoenix.

All our entry and exit points are secure, and hospitals, sub-stations and water points,” said Pillay. Ashwin Trikamjee, president of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, said they had received a number of calls from concerned members from the community. “We responded to the calls to bring some level of calmness.

When someone resorts to threats and violence, it means they have no support,” said Trikamjee. Moulana Tariq, chairperson of the Phoenix Crisis Centre, said religious leaders were asking for divine intervention to maintain peace and calmness. “We worked hard following the unrest to bridge the gap of peace, harmony and love among the community. We don’t want it to go in vain. “We are continuing to have peace prayers,” said Tariq