- Police Minister Bheki Cele says a team of detectives has been assigned to investigate the killing of at least 20 people in Phoenix, Durban.
- Cele held a public meeting with KwaBambhayi residents who accused residents of Phoenix of committing acts of violence against them, allegedly assisted by security companies.
- The minister said he will meet with Phoenix residents and return to KwaBambhayi to provide feedback.
A ten-member team of detectives has been tasked with investigating the killing of at least 20 people in the volatile Phoenix area in Durban.
Police Minister Bheki Cele promised residents of KwaBambhayi township the killers will be arrested.
“Twenty people were killed, and as you say there are more bodies out there. We need to find all of them, and I hear the community saying they’re not allowed to access the mortuary. A dedicated team of 10 detectives will be doing nothing but investigate these murders,” he said.
Cele, who on Friday blamed the murders on crime and not racism, said he will hold a meeting with the Phoenix community and return to report back to KwaBambhayi residents.
“It has been said here that outside of criminality, there is racism in Phoenix. We will have to look into it,” he said.
Phoenix has been plagued by racial tension in the aftermath of the week-long riots and looting that left shops, trucks and warehouses decimated in some parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. As violence moved closer to their homes, some residents established protection groups along with private security companies, denying access to anyone based outside their areas.
At least 20 people were killed, many injured and vehicles torched in the Durban North suburb of Phoenix.
Residents told Cele they were attacked by armed residents of Phoenix and prevented from entering the suburb. A young woman said she was beaten up and her car damaged when she tried to drive through the area during the civil unrest.
[TODAY] Police Minister Gen Bheki Cele in #CeleinKZN where he is addressing policing concerns by community members & racial tensions that have marred the unrest, violence in #Phoenix. This resident says she escaped death while going to a pharmacy in Phoenix. #ProtectSA pic.twitter.com/7xh8zh4KGF
— Lirandzu Themba (@LirandzuThemba) July 17, 2021
“I didn’t do anything… I still do not know why they attacked me, even today. I want them arrested, I lost my property (the car) that I worked hard for because people saw it fit to just attack people for nothing,” she said.
The residents demanded that private security companies in Phoenix be investigated and that all barricaded roads be cleared and opened.
Cele held separate meetings with communities of KwaBambhayi, Zwelitsha and Mawothi townships. He told the residents that he would also hold a meeting with the Indian community in the Phoenix suburb and then give the feedback to committees chosen by the township residents.
At least 212 people were murdered during the riots in the two provinces.
Do you want to know more about this topic? Sign up for one of News24’s 33 newsletters to receive the information you want in your inbox. Special newsletters are available to subscribers.