Police Minister Bheki Cele briefed the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Wednesday that 42 people have been arrested for their alleged role in the racially motivated Phoenix murders during the recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal.
Following the July unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, a special investigation team, comprising of detectives from the national and provincial offices, was deployed to KwaZulu-Natal to look into the death of 36 people killed in Phoenix, Cele said.
“This team has hit the ground running and has so far arrested 42 people for their alleged role in the racially motivated murders.These arrests have been widely welcomed by the communities of Zwelisha, Bhambhayi and uMaoti where most of the victims reside.
“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,” Cele said.
The minister said a Peace Committee has been established to rebuild the broken community relations between residents of these areas and Phoenix.
“The aim is to bring about peace and stability through working with residents and police,” Cele said, adding that the committee has worked closely with the police to facilitate the reporting of cases of missing persons from these areas.
“They have been at the forefront of assisting the bereaved families to identify the remains of their loved ones at the Phoenix government mortuary. This Peace Committee is playing a vital role in ensuring that the communities they represent are kept abreast with information at all times,” the minister said.
Cele also told the NCOP that to date, a total of 16 instigators allegedly behind the civil unrest in July have been identified, arrested and “are going through the court processes”.
The minister told the NCOP that investigations into inquests, murder and attempted murder cases were ongoing and that the police are also probing cases of business burglary and robbery, malicious damage to property, possession of dangerous weapons as well as possession of suspected stolen property, public violence and arson.
Cele added that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is prioritising all the cases that involve police during the July unrest.
“In this regard, the IPID has received a total of 74 [cases in KwaZulu-Natal] and 13 in Gauteng province.”