The murders that took place in KwaZulu Natal’s town of Phoenix in northern Durban during the violence two weeks ago are a priority for the South African government, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.Speaking at the Gallagher Estate vaccination centre on Thursday, Ramaphosa said the Phoenix murders were a top priority and were being examined to see who committed them.
There was a total of 337 lives lost during the unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, and 23 of them were in Phoenix, according to police.
Police suspect vigilantism was responsible for attacking communities protecting their properties from the looting that left many businesses and buildings gutted, he said.
“Obviously, we’re very worried about what happened in Phoenix. It has evoked a lot of feelings on all sides. People’s lives were lost,” Ramaphosa said.
He acknowledged the deep hurt that many people felt, and said his government empathised with them.
“Some of the incidents that took place in Phoenix are simply what we don’t want to have in our country, where there was a measure of vigilantism and targeting of people,” Ramaphosa said.
The looting and arson attacks were said to have cost the KwaZulu-Natal economy more than US$1.43 billion, while 150,000 jobs were on the line, he said.
He assured citizens that his government was attending to the Phoenix matter at a political level, security and criminal justice structures.
“The Phoenix matter remains front of mind and we want to examine it in all its aspect to see precisely what type of way forward we chart,” the president said.