Police Minister, General Bheki Cele on Sunday gave an update on meetings held in the communities of Phoenix and neighbouring settlements of Bhambayi, Umaoti and Zwelisha.
Cele led a series of feedback meetings in the areas, providing communities with some updates on investigations by SAPS.
He reassured residents of Phoenix that police are hard at work investigating the “heinous crimes” that occurred during the KwaZulu-Natal violence and unrest in July particle the Phoenix massacre.
Progress in the investigations:
“The team of 31 detectives deployed to investigate these heinous crimes, has to date arrested 36 suspects for the murders of innocent lives in Phoenix. This team is also investigating the role of police in the violence and looking closely into the role also played by seven private security companies operating in the area,” he said.
According to the police death toll in Phoenix stands at 36, several suspects have been arrested the last few weeks.
Some of the suspects are allegedly connected to several murder cases while others face charges of attempted murder, malicious damage to property and defeating the ends of justice.
Several firearms have also been confiscated from the private security firms and have been taken in for ballistic analysis, as part of ongoing police investigations, the statement read.
Cele concluded: “It’s always been clear that people want peace but peace goes hand in hand with justice and I believe police have kicked off this process on a high note. The detectives are working closely with the prosecution team to ensure they put together solid cases that will see those found guilty, being put away for a long time.”
Some of the murders have been blamed on racial profiled.
Cele explained earlier this month, that community members in Phoenix had set up patrols in the neighbourhood’s streets after the rampant looting and violent unrest in parts of KZN.
“The problem started when some people operating the checkpoints turned to vigilantism and started racially profiling people, preventing them entry into the suburb,” he said.
Compiled by Sandisiwe Mbhele