WATCH | Police separate protesters as suspects set to appear in connection with Phoenix unrest

26 July 2021 - 11:03 By Mluleki Mdletshe
Police speak to a group of protesters asking them to separate from family and friends of seven suspects who are expected to appear in the Verulam magistrate's court on Monday in connection with unrest and alleged murders in Phoenix during recent civil unrest.
Police speak to a group of protesters asking them to separate from family and friends of seven suspects who are expected to appear in the Verulam magistrate's court on Monday in connection with unrest and alleged murders in Phoenix during recent civil unrest.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

A large police and army presence was on high alert outside the Verulam magistrate's court on Monday, where seven people who were arrested in Phoenix on Friday after civil unrest in the province are expected to appear.

A crowd of supporters from Phoenix arrived carrying boards and signs that read “All lives matter” and “No to racism”. 

Alice Govender, family media spokesperson for two of the suspects, whom she would only identify by their first names, Owen and Seelan, said they had come to show support for their loved ones.

Govender said the two men had not been charged with anything relating to the murders.

“Today we have supporters, friends and family from our community of Phoenix. We are here to see that Seelan and Owen are granted bail. There is no charge that we know of that has been opened against them and I think that it's quite unfair what is unfolding and happening to them,” she said.

Police had to separate a group of ANC and EFF protesters who were singing struggle songs, including Umshini wami, and holding placards bearing the face of former president Jacob Zuma, and the supporters of the seven suspects.

Sizophila Mkhize, the ANC Youth League national spokesperson, said: “The government must stop being in denial. We are here to today because of inequalities - racial inequalities. We are here because of the preference that the government gives to one race over the other. What needs to happen first is to address those inequalities.

“The rhetoric of a rainbow nation is why we're here. Rainbow nation is on paper, it is not in practical terms. We need to live together in harmony and understand that we are all South Africans,” said Mkhize

Another protester, Nkulu Ngwenya, who claimed that his vehicle was damaged last week by Phoenix residents for “no apparent reason”, said he'd come to ensure that those responsible were made to pay.

Ngwenya said he was driving back to his KwaMashu home from the Phoenix Plaza when his bakkie was stoned near the shopping centre.

“They were swearing and shouting at me to stop my car, but as soon as they threw stones at my car I decided to ignore them and left.

“The police presence here is really unnecessary, in my opinion. Even the army is carrying weapons as if they are going to war.”

He said the police failed to help when the communities were under fire.

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