News / South Africa / Crime

Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
2 minute read
8 Aug 2021
3:17 pm

Nine more suspects arrested in connection to Phoenix murders

Molefe Seeletsa

The death toll in Phoenix still stands at 36 while a total of 31 people have been arrested in connection to the murders in the area.

Police Minister Bheki Cele was back in Phoenix on Saturday to ease racial tensions in the area. Picture: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

The number of arrests in connection to the murders in Phoenix, KwaZulu-Natal has now increased to 31 according to Police Ministry spokesperson Lirandza Themba.

Themba revealed on Sunday afternoon that more arrests have been made after Police Minister Bheki Cele earlier in the week announced 22 suspect were in custody.

ALSO READ: Phoenix investigation ‘remains front of mind’, says Ramaphosa

Cele indicated at the time that 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.

The number of deaths in the area, located in the north of Durban, however, remains at 36.

Racial profiling

During a media briefing on Tuesday, Cele revealed there was racial profiling in Phoenix after the rampant looting and violent unrest in parts of KwaZulu-Natal started.

Cele said community members in Phoenix had set up patrols in the neighbourhood’s streets.

“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.

READ MORE: Bheki Cele: ‘There is racism against black people in Phoenix’

The minister said the action taken by the Phoenix community members led “to unlawful discrimination, and restriction of movement for mainly Africans”.

He had previously claimed at first the violence in Phoenix had taken a “racial connotation”, but later backtracked on his remarks.

Investigations

Cele had also indicated that police were investigating 52 cases of attempted murder and murder, nine cases of robbery and 16 cases of common assaults and grievous bodily harm (GBH), adding that arrests have been made.

He said a team of 31 experienced detectives from the province and national, have been deployed to investigate the murders.

READ MORE: Malema tells Phoenix police to find ‘Indian thugs’ or else

The minister added that police were also looking into the role of private security firms in the Phoenix killings.

He pointed out that 112 illegal firearms had also been seized during police operations in the area.