Police Minister Bheki Cele says police investigations into the Phoenix attacks have yielded positive results.
Police say 36 suspects have been arrested for the murder of 33 people in the alleged racially related attacks that occurred in Phoenix, north of Durban.
The attacks took place last month during unrest in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng.
While addressing community members in Amaoti, Bhambayi and those of Phoenix – Cele said 36 people lost their lives altogether in Phoenix.
During heated discussion at the Phoenix community hall residents addressed the issue of disunity and the conduct of private security companies that were on duty at the time of the unrest in this area.
March in Phoenix following July unrest
Some insist the attacks were not racial but they were merely protecting their community.
One of the Phoenix resident’s Collin John says, “We had initial problems here on that one day, that’s when the General stepped in to help us but we reached out on our own to the communities from Zwelisha and we’ve got a good relationship going on with no problems – all the problems are being ironed out it was a lot of false media statements and fake news going around that caused all the initial problems here in Phoenix. Let the police do their work and let the communities do their part and reach out to one another.”
But community members from surrounding settlements of Phoenix say they have been subjected to abuse by private security companies for years.
A resident from Amaoti and Bhamnayi said, “Minister, could you please make sure that you address this issue of these private security companies in Phoenix. These security companies such as VIP and Reaction really need to be investigated. We have been abused by these companies for too long. We are also not happy with the police station.”
Cele addresses the Phoenix community in KwaZulu-Natal
Responding to these concerns Cele indicated that so far, at least 7 private security companies are being investigated for their conduct at the time of the unrest in Phoenix. Cele also says the number of firearms seized from these companies are now 162.
Cele says, “The main private security company that people complained about is VIP KZN. It is very notorious. There are others as well. There were four now there are seven being investigated. We have seized 162 firearms from these companies for ballistic testing – there is a lot of investigation that is underway.”
Cele also called on these communities not to take the law into their own hands but to allow police to continue with investigations.
He says, “ I am calling on this community to denounce racism, it needs to stop. Police are doing their job, they continue to investigate.
Meanwhile, police watchdog Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is also investigating three 3 police officers from the local police station for misconduct.
Reporting by: Nonhlakanipho Magwaza