Umlazi township in KwaZulu Natal. (Photo Credit: Ali Mahommed)

By DaQuan Lawrence
Special to the AFRO

Throughout July, there were many international reports of riots and unrest in South Africa. Many discussed the political context and claimed the riots stemmed from the recent legal decision for former President Jacob Zuma to serve 15 months in prison for contempt of court after defying a court order to provide evidence at a legal proceeding examining allegations of corruption during his term. This is largely believed to be tied to a political agenda, as Zuma was a former leader of the African National Congress (ANC), the primary party in power since the advent of democracy in South Africa. Other accounts discussed the economic context as a driver for the rioting, as three-fourths of South Africa’s 60 million citizens endure severe economic hardship and have been neglected by a political system that focuses on economic issues and the interest of the elite. 

Of significance, is the omission or possible lack of reporting and awareness of the racial conflict and vigilante violence against Africans in the province of KwaZulu Natal. Within the whirlwind of media coverage proclaiming to have the insider story about last month’s events there are conflicting narratives. The Phoenix residential area, north of Durban, witnessed what community members are calling “a massacre,” as upwards of 300 Africans from surrounding communities were murdered and their deaths ignored by international sources and possibly South African officials. 

Indians killed black people for no reason, that’s what I was told,” said a street vendor selling fresh vegetables. There have been many claims of racial violence by Indians who killed Africans travelling through majority Indian communities. “Government is still shocked that people were murdered in broad daylight while walking or driving on the public roads,” said a local resident.

Chatsworth community nearby (Photo Credit: Ali Mahommed)

Official accounts uphold that less than 40 South Africans were unlawfully killed in July, while other reports claim the number of individuals was actually as many as 330. “Indians and whites are killing black people” said a member of the community that also lost a friend during the month of unjust terror on Black South Africans, who are also economically marginalized via public policies that support the minority white population and small, yet growing South African middle class. “I lost a friend who was trying to stop people from looting and was shot in the head”, he added. 

Phoenix also has inter-racial relationships between Indians and Africans. Some Indian members of the community organized an #AllLivesMatter rally calling for peace, claiming “There is no racism. If you go into our shopping malls…our taxis, there is mixed multi-racial , there is no problem.”

While Community leader, Jackie Shandu organized a march to Durban’s City Hall and called for justice for those killed and their families as well those marginalized within South Africa, saying “this is an uncalled-for racial war that includes violence against women…and President Ramaphosa has yet to set foot in Phoenix” 

On August 2, the ten suspects arrested in connection with the Phoenix killings had a bail hearing at the Verulam Magistrate’s Court.

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