340 people lost their lives during KZN, Gauteng unrest: Cele

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Three hundred and forty people lost their lives during the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng.  This is according to Police Minister Bheki Cele who briefed the media together with KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala earlier today.

Cele also lifted the lid on the racial tensions and alleged racial killings that flared up in Phoenix north of Durban. A total of 36 people were killed during the racial tensions that erupted during the unrest in the area.

According to reports from police, 30 of these people were shot and killed, four were burnt to death while others succumbed to their injuries as a result of being assaulted.

“During the unrest, Phoenix became an epicenter of heinous crimes and racist incidents that resulted in brutal killings and injuries. The events in Phoenix had claimed the lives of 36 people, our investigation shows that 30 of those who were killed were shot, two were burnt to death, one was stabbed and another was run over by a vehicle. Two others died from the brutal injuries they sustained after being assaulted. In total police are investigating 52 cases of attempted murder and probing nine cases of common assault and 16 cases of assault GBH.”

He revealed that four security companies are also being investigated. He says 152 guns belonging to the security companies have been seized, an additional 112 illegal firearms were also seized from various individuals around the area during police operations.

“There are 152 firearms that belong to companies, but beyond that, there are 112 that have been found, seized around Phoenix. The seizure of these firearms is within the law of the Firearms Control Act. The firearms have been sent for ballistic analysis.”

Cele says a total of 22 suspects have since been arrested in connection with the Phoenix violence.

“ I want to be very clear about this. What happened in Phoenix are criminal acts that took a racial turn. These acts have no place in our society. The perpetrators will be arrested and prosecuted. A team of 31 experienced detectives from the province and national has been deployed and made arrests to ensure justice prevails. They have hit the ground running. Their investigations have led to the arrest of 22 suspects.

Police Minister General Bheki Cele and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala briefing:

Peace and reconciliation

Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala says the provincial government is encouraged by the acts of reconciliation to bring peace and harmony in Phoenix and surrounding areas. Zikalala denounced the brutal acts committed in the Phoenix area.

However, he also recognised the attempts to restore relations between the different communities.

“In the midst of that despair, we are however encouraged that Chatsworth, Verulam, Northdale, and many other areas, good citizens are standing up against this barbaric act. We have seen groups of social activists in the Indian and African communities embarking on a campaign under the theme, All Lives Matter.”

Cele also revealed that twelve alleged instigators have been arrested. He also promised the families that lost their loved ones that the killers will account.