KZN unrest: Phoenix murder accused to seek bail
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DURBAN - TEN suspects linked to killings that took place in Phoenix during the unrest that gripped the province two weeks ago are set to appear in court for bail consideration on Friday.
This comes after the suspects made their first appearance yesterday, in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court, facing various charges.
National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Natasha Kara said the charges faced by the accused included murder, attempted murder, possession of stolen property, malicious damage to property, unlawful possession of firearms and unlawful possession of ammunition.
Kara said the matters were held in camera as identity parades were yet to be conducted. The suspects were arrested at the weekend and, according to the police, some were allegedly connected to more than one murder.
More than 22 people died, several vehicles were torched, and scores were left injured during the violence that has been linked to racial tensions in the Phoenix area.
Outside court, there was a strong police presence, with several police officers and more than 20 SANDF members maintaining order.
The police and army had to close off George Sewpersadh Street as dozens of people had gathered outside the court.
The protesters were spilt into two groups, one supporting the accused and the other demanding that the suspects be denied bail.
At one point, police and the soldiers had to intervene, after community members from Inanda approached Phoenix residents, demanding that they throw their placards away.
They accused them of being insensitive towards the grieving families, saying their actions were “adding salt to the wounds”.
Phoenix community activist Alice Govender said while they had come out to show support for the accused, they understood that wrongdoers would face the full extent of the law.
“All we are asking for is that our community must not be labelled as racist, we have been here for over 100 years,” she said.
ANCYL national spokesperson Sizophila Mkhize accused the national ANC leadership of being in denial and ignoring the racial tensions that have surfaced in areas around Durban.
“The situation is going to worsen if the government continues to blue tick this situation.
“They are busy collecting looted food and sanitary pads from desperate people, and yet they ignore raiding heavily armed people for firearms.
“The leadership didn’t even come here, that shows that the leadership has ignored such an important matter. What is going to happen is that these communities are going to provoke each other, and we don’t want to see that,” she said.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued yesterday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the unrest had had a huge impact on social cohesion of communities.
Ramaphosa said he knew, from official reports and personal accounts, that people were racially profiled at illegal roadblocks, some were pulled out of cars and beaten, some were humiliated and degraded, and several were killed.
Vigilantism would not be tolerated in this country, he said, adding that it was a crime and dangerous. However, he said the narrative of the events in Phoenix had been dominated by attempts to turn one race against another.
“It has been stoked by anonymous people on social media and in messaging groups, making outrageous claims and calling for revenge.
“Just as there were people who tried to exploit people’s vulnerability and cause mayhem, there are those who want to present criminal acts in racial terms, to serve their own purposes.
“The events in Phoenix are a painful reminder of how much work we still need to do to build inclusive communities that have successfully broken down the boundaries of the past,” he said.