Accused in cases linked to Phoenix murders intimidated at Westville prison

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The accused in cases linked to the Phoenix murders in July are being threatened and assaulted in Durban’s Westville prison. This is apparently instigated by wardens. This emerged in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court when three men appeared again on charges of murder and attempted murder.

Emotions have been running high over the deaths of 36 people in the Phoenix area, north of Durban, in alleged racially motivated attacks during the widespread unrest in July.

Defence attorney Carl Van Der Merwe has told the court that the brothers Dylan and Ned Govender, and their co-accused, Jeetendra Jaikissoon, are being intimidated when they are waiting in a common area to be taken to their cells after returning from court. Van Der Merwe has told the court these threats are being incited by prison wardens.

This is despite a court order that the three men be kept separately for safety reasons. Magistrate Irfaan Khalil says in another Phoenix case he heard earlier this week, that some of those accused have been assaulted by other prisoners.

Emotions are still running high about the Phoenix cases, with people protesting outside the court and demanding that bail be denied to all accused in cases linked to the Phoenix killings.

Some community members marched yesterday, calling for peace in the area: 

Meanwhile, friends and relatives of the Govenders and Jaikissoon have attended their court appearance for the first time.

The bail application by the three men, which was abandoned about a month ago, is due to resume on Friday. The Govenders’ legal team withdrew last month.

Their new legal representatives needed time to familiarise themselves with the case. The men are charged with being part of a group of people who attacked five unarmed men on 12 July as they walked down a residential street in Phoenix.

The court has heard evidence that Dylan Govender shot and killed Mondle Majola as the men tried to hide in a yard.

Meanwhile, the attempted murder case against three other men, Seelan Chetty, Owen Chinnasamy, and Keillen Pillay has been postponed to 27 October for further investigation.