Social cohesion initiatives yielding positive results in Phoenix, Bambayi and surrounding areas: SAHRC

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The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says social cohesion initiatives have so far yielded positive results at Phoenix, Bambayi and surrounding areas in the north of Durban following last month’s violent unrest.

During alleged racially motivated attacks in Phoenix, 33 people were killed in Phoenix. Police have since arrested at least 36 people so far.

Head of the SAHRC in KwaZulu-Natal, Lloyd Lotz, also commended religious leaders for their commitment to fostering peace in the area.

Lotz says, “At the root of the problem is, of course, the state of our socio-economic system in the country, but also at the same time, the issues we’ve been picking up on the ground is the fact that what happened has caused a lot of anger as well.”

“It’s a very complex situation at the same time, the situations lay with the people on the ground, and those that are angry need to speak up as well. People are angry but we need that process to unfold. We are quite happy that we’ve been interacting with some of the interfaith leaders as well, and they’ve been doing a phenomenal job,” says Lotz.

A team from the Commission visited Phoenix yesterday to engage with community leaders and monitor the situation.

Some insist the attacks were not racial but they were merely protecting their community.

Phoenix resident 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 says, “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.”

In the video below, an activist hands over a memorandum at the Phoenix police station: