Calls for justice and gun raid in Phoenix at memorial service for unrest victim Delani Khumalo

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One of the victims of the recent violent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal, Delani Khumalo, will be laid to rest on Saturday.

It is believed that the 41-year-old internationally acclaimed choreographer is one of the over 20 people who were killed in Phoenix when Indian community members, who were patrolling the area during the unrest, allegedly assaulted and shot suspected looters.

Khumalo was remembered in a memorial service by his close friends and family on Friday. Many of his colleagues from the arts sector also came out to mourn his death.

Memorial service for internationally acclaimed choreographer, Delani Khumalo, held:

Those who knew and loved Khumalo say they are struggling to come to terms with his death. They described him as a warm and responsible man who provided for his family. It is believed that at the time of his death, he had gone to Phoenix to look for fuel, when he was attacked. It is not yet clear exactly who killed him. His car was also burnt.

His relative Nombuso Mavundla says they want justice.

“We want justice, what is hurting us the most is that police minister Bheki Cele, is seeming not taking the killing of people in Phoenix seriously. We only see his police raiding houses of people who had taken food from shops they are not using the same energy in investigating the people who killed our loved ones. We want justice, we deserve to know what had happened that led to this brutality. We lost someone who loved us, he was a very warm person he was playing a role of being our father as well,” says Mavundla.

Founder of the KwaMashu Community Advancement Project, Edmund Mhlongo, says they are devastated by Khumalo’s death.

Mhlongo travelled the world with Khumalo working together on several stage plays.

“One of the top choreographers in South Africa, actually I put him in a deep end because we didn’t have trainers and I said because you got talent go there and train and I will mentor you, the rest is history. I’ve mentored him, he was teachable, he was trainable and he became an assert of the community. This is why he has been traveling all over the world with the productions not only of KCAP and that’s why he ended up in the training of schools. He started a huge carnival that was collaborating with a Gauteng carnival, Jabulani South Africa Celebrates in 2004 and the biggest one was Bayede Shaka the Spear is born where he performed together with Hendry Cele the legend himself,” he told mourners.

Khumalo was due to travel with a group of young dancers abroad.

President of the Federation of International Dance Festivals, George Oliphant, is appealing to police minister Bheki Cele to raid Phoenix, looking for guns that might have been used in the unrest.

“We need the same effort that they are using to take all those stolen goods in people’s houses, let them use that same effort to go and look for those guns in Phoenix and check whoever was holding a gun like we saw on social media. Phoenix is not another country, Phoenix is in Durban, it is in South Africa, we must not treat it different treat it like other areas. We must all live in peace, we have promoted peace, we have fought for this democracy, raid Phoenix, raid all those people who are called community guards and arrest them if they have done gruesome killing,” says Oliphant.

At a recent media briefing, acting minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshaveni, confirmed that so far it is believed that 337 people lost their lives in the unrest that gripped both Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Unpacking the Phoenix massacre: