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Citizen Reporter
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2 minute read
2 Sep 2021
2:41 pm

Phoenix murders: More than 50 suspects arrested, says Cele

Citizen Reporter

A total of 56 people have been arrested to date.

Minister Bheki Cele at crime scene on September 02, 2021 in Umlazi, South Africa. Picture: Gallo Images/Darren Stewart

Police Minister Bheki Cele says more than 50 suspects have now been arrested in connection to the murders in Phoenix, KwaZulu-Natal.

Cele gave an update on the progress of the investigations into the 36 deaths in Phoenix, which has led to 56 people being arrested to date.

“The police have increased the arrests there. Plus-minus 56 people have been arrested [and] they will be appearing in court. It looks like there are people there who have committed quite heinous crimes.

ALSO READ: ‘The people of Phoenix want peace,’ says Bheki Cele

“One person has been linked to six murders in Phoenix. So we will be getting information as people appear in court,” he said.

He previously indicated that some of the suspects were allegedly connected to several murder cases, while others face charges of attempted murder, malicious damage to property and defeating the ends of justice.

The minister was speaking in Umlazi, having visited the area located in the south-west of Durban following the killings of 11 people in less than three days.

Private security firms

The minister told Parliament last week that police were still looking into the role of private security firms in the Phoenix killings.

At this stage, seven firms are being investigated, according to Police Ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba.

“So far, seven of these private security firms are being probed. And, as we know, the police in their investigations have managed to seize over 100 firearms from these private security firms.

“This of course is part of an ongoing investigation… to ascertain the involvement of these private security firms in the murders of the 36 people,” Themba told eNCA.

Racial profiling

Some of the murders in Phoenix have been blamed on the victims being racially 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 KwaZulu-Natal.

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

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 that the violence in Phoenix had taken a “racial connotation”, but later backtracked on his remarks.