Cele headed back to Phoenix as violence continues in parts of KZN

Overnight looters torched the landmark Isipingo market, set fires in Greytown, torched the Eshowe Mall and even threatened to burn down the Eston Sugar Mill.

FILE: Community members hold weapons as they stand at a road block in Phoenix Township, North Durban, on 15 July 2021 to prevent looters from reaching the community. Picture: GUILLEM SARTORIO/AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Police Minister Bheki Cele is heading back to Phoenix in Durban on Friday morning - one of the hardest areas hit by violence and looting and where racial tensions have flared up as a result.

In that suburb alone, 20 people have died in the last few days.

Residents have resorted to guarding most of the neigbourhoods but also restricting anyone from entering their area.

This has led to confrontations and deepened anger, with some people saying they were being treated like thugs in their own communities and were not able to access critical services.

Phoenix Community Policing Forum chair Umesh Singh said it was possible that some people who were killed there this week came under fire from those who were trying to protect themselves.

“There was a shootout between the community members and the looters, so anything is possible at this moment.”

As of Thursday, there were 10,000 soldiers patrolling the streets of Gauteng and KZN and while government said the tide seemed to be turning, the effects of the violence are likely to be long lasting.

In KwaZulu Natal, there are growing concerns of a humanitarian crisis, with supply lines blocked or constrained.

The army has now been deployed to free up the arterial routes into the province... to ensure basic goods like food and medical supplies are available....

For residents, daily life has become a struggle.

“We find our selves in a situation that is similar to a war zone,” one resident said.

Another added that: “We’re struggling to get milk, bread.”

Whilst government still characterises the province as volatile, it maintains its showing signs of stabilisation.

The violence has cost the economy billions and many small and medium businesses targeted indiscriminately will never recover.

FIRES RAGE ON IN KZN

While government remains cagey about the identity of one of 12 alleged instigators of the unprecedented wave of violence, looting and destruction of the past 8 days - the unrest continued unabated in KwaZulu-Natal overnight.

Overnight looters torched the landmark Isipingo market, set fires in Greytown, torched the Eshowe Mall and even threatened to burn down the Eston Sugar Mill.

There were also reports of sporadic protests and lootings and the burning of sugarcane fields.

In Durban, an angry mob set fire to homes near Phoenix and resident had to flee their homes in the early hours of the morning.

A standoff ensued with police and the protesters while private security reinforcements were called in.

The incident signals that the unrest is far from over and that a more aggressive plan is needed from the police top brass to restore peace and calm in the area that is now a hotspot, fueled by tensions, both racial and criminal.

The incident came just hours after Police Minister Bheki Cele met with community leaders and set up a peace committee to restore calm in the area where 20 people have died in vigilante skirmishes.

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