Siyanda Ndlovu
Digital Journalist
2 minute read
26 Jul 2021
7:05 pm

Phoenix violence not a race issue, but ‘police’s incompetence’

Siyanda Ndlovu

The party was responding to President Cyril Ramaphosa's weekly letters titles from the desk of the president on Monday.

A man, part of a group of community vigilantes, fires towards a crowd of alleged looters. Photo: AFP/Marco Longari

The deadly events of vigilantism that occurred in Phoenix, KwaZulu-Natal, in the last two weeks cannot be attributed to race issues but the “incompetence of law enforcement”, says the Freedom Front Plus.

The party was responding to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s latest weekly letter on Monday.

“The President must not try and hold up and hide behind racism when it comes to the events that took place in Phoenix. The truth is that the Phoenix community had no other choice but to protect itself seeing as the police force was apparently unable to,” reads the statement.

The party said that while it did not promote vigilantism nor justifying it, phoenix violence cannot be attributed to racial tensions.

ALSO READ: ‘Rights commission has no moral authority to probe Phoenix racism,’ says NGO

“The situation in Phoenix must be seen in context of the actual events that transpired there as well as the fact that a lack of police presence greatly contributed to the situation’s volatility.”

It said that if the police force had done its job, those events would never have occurred.

“President Ramaphosa must accept full responsibility for what happened seeing as he allowed incompetence to paralyse the t country’s security structures on his watch,” the FF+ said.

While making special reference to the violence that erupted in Phoenix, Ramaphosa has since urged South Africans to have “honest conversations with each other about race issues”.

“We need to have honest conversations not only about our attitudes to one another, but also about the material conditions that divide us,” said Ramaphosa.

“For as long as the division of wealth and opportunity in South Africa is largely still determined by race and gender, we will not be able to build a truly united nation.”

Ramaphosa said that the Phoenix events were a painful reminder of how much work we still needed to do to build inclusive communities that have successfully broken down the boundaries of the past.

He said that these also demonstrated “how determined some people are to divide us, and how we need to do everything we can to resist them.”

“It is our collective responsibility to support these communities in eThekwini and elsewhere in their journey towards reconciliation and healing,” Ramaphosa said.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa on Phoenix unrest: ‘Vigilantism will not be tolerated in SA’

The FF+, however, disputed the president’s remarks.

“The President is also wrong in assuming that the events in Phoenix reflect the average South African’s racial disposition,” the party said.

“A good example and true reflection of racial relations was evident between the people in Pongola where the entire community, white, black, coloured and Indian, joined hands to protect their town against anarchy.”

It said that Ramaphosa was wrong to focus only on what went wrong in Phoenix and ignore the good racial relations elsewhere.