The unrest which descended into vigilantism particularly in Phoenix, Durban claimed 36 lives in that area alone, South African Police Minister Bheki Cele revealed on Tuesday at a briefing in Durban.
“Our investigations show that 30 of those who were killed were shot,” he said, adding that two died after being burnt, one was stabbed to death and one “was run over by a motor vehicle” and two others died from the brutal injuries they sustained after being assaulted.
“Police are investigating 52 cases of attempted murder and probing nine cases of common assault and 16 cases of assaults,” he noted.
Cele said while the unrest that affected Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal saw the burning and the damage of property and infrastructure, Phoenix became the “epicentre of heinous criminal and racist incidents”.
Cele, who appointed a team of 31 experienced police detectives to investigate crimes that occurred in the area, said “crimes committed in Phoenix will not go unpunished.” So far 22 suspects have been arrested.
“Some of these suspects are allegedly connected to several murder cases, while others face charges relating to attempted murder, malicious damage to property, and defeating the ends of justice,” he said.
When the unrest began on July 12, community members of Phoenix set up roadblocks which turned to vigilantism and where people were racially profiled.
“Some motorists were allegedly forcefully taken out of their motor vehicles and then assaulted with baseball bats, bricks and sticks. Some people were even butchered with bush knives and other sharp instruments,” Cele said, despite relying on the detailed police report, residents from surrounding areas spoke of how they “escaped death” while trying to access clinics and a local pharmacy. Enditem