Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has suggested that his party might take matters into their own hands if police do not act against the people behind the 20 fatalities in Phoenix, north of Durban.
This follows racial tensions between the Indian community of Phoenix and the neighbouring townships of Zwelisha and Bhambayi, tensions that were sparked by the recent wave of rampant looting and violent unrest in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Residents complained about the role of some private security companies, as well as policing shortcomings, being some of the elements fuelling the instability in the area.
Police Minister Bheki Cele last Thursday confirmed that 15 people were killed in Phoenix, at first claiming the violence had taken a “racial connotation” but later backtracking.
The number of deaths increased to 20 in the area, with several missing and believed to have died in criminal and vigilante acts.
‘Indian thugs and criminals’
In an interview with Kaya FM on Tuesday, Malema weighed in his thoughts on the incidents in Phoenix.
“I just want to address one point of Phoenix where the Indians were killing our people there. The police will have to find those people because we may be left with no option, but to go find them ourselves. So, the sooner they do that, the better.
“What those Indians did there in Phoenix is unforgettable, we will never forgive them for what they did to our people.
“And those are Indian criminals, they must be called exactly that. We are not going to make any apology about that.
“Instead of people going door to door to look for goods which they are going to destroy, let them go and find those Indian thugs and criminals who killed our people,” he said.
The EFF leader further sent his condolences to the families of the deceased, adding that his party “will make sure that they get justice”.
“We want to send our condolences to our people in KwaZulu-Natal, especially those who were killed by Indian thugs.
“We are sending our condolences and we are saying to them, they will not die in vain. We will make sure that they get justice,” he said.
This is not the first time that Malema has slammed the Indian population in South Africa.
In 2018, Malema said some Indian South Africans were racist, with many groups coming out strongly against his comment and that he was being racist.
Cele has since assembled a team of 10 detectives to investigate the deaths of the 20 people.
The minister on Saturday returned to Phoenix to engage with residents and urged them not to allow criminal elements to hijack their efforts to protect themselves.
He asked the communities to develop a list of people who are reportedly missing.
He also urged residents of the area to form a community grouping that would work with police at district level to rebuild relations and bring about peace and social cohesion.
According to the police ministry, 80 public order police officers have also been deployed to assist local police and will work together with members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to keep all residents and property safe.