South Africa: Parliamentary Inquiry Into KZN Violence Must Deal Decisively With Reckless Phoenix Race Baiting

press release

The DA calls on Parliament to urgently convene its parliamentary inquiry into the violent unrest which occurred in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and resulted in the deaths of more than 200 South Africans.

The DA is particularly concerned by the highly charged and racially fuelled fallout from some of these deaths, especially some social media accounts which have engaged in race baiting and fanning racial tension under the hashtag #PhoenixMassacre.

Minister Bheki Cele must be called to account for the South African Police Service's (SAPS) failure to keep communities like Phoenix safe which led to a vacuum filled by community policing structures, private security firms and in some cases allegedly by opportunistic vigilantes. Minister Cele has regrettably hopped on the race baiting band wagon and spent a disproportionate amount of time focusing on alleged racial tension rather than examining the root causes of SAPS' failure.

The hashtag, #PhoenixMassacre, surfaced on Twitter following the violent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng. In the wake of this violence, some have now used this as an opportunity to further exploit racial tensions among South Africans, and to stoke racial tensions between Indian and black communities, in particular.

The violence in Phoenix, KwaZulu-Natal, like elsewhere, was a failure of the State to respond to criminal action both on the part of those looting and those taking the law into their own hands.

SAPS failed completely in its duty to protect South African communities against the orchestrated violence and unrest, leaving communities to unite to defend their homes and businesses. While we strongly condemn the senseless deaths during the unrest, it is unfortunate and reckless, that the matter has now been racialised.

The DA has noted the police investigations which are currently taking place in relation to these deaths. We are of the belief, however, that the parliamentary inquiry promised by Chair of Chairs, Cedrick Frolick, will be critical in assessing the facts and evidence while moving communities towards reconciliation.

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