JOHANNESBURG – Supporters of South Africa’s leftist opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, on Thursday demonstrated against the killings of 36 people in Phoenix, a suburb of Durban, during the recent violent riots in KwaZulu-Natal province.
More than 1,000 people marched through Phoenix to hand police a statement demanding justice for the families of those who were killed in that town during the violence.
The riots in July, sparked by the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma, descended into widespread looting of shopping malls and retail shops across KwaZulu-Natal and spread to Gauteng, South Africa's most populous province.
More than 300 people died in the week-long riots which were quelled by the deployment of 25,000 soldiers.
During the riots, racial tensions flared in Phoenix, a community predominantly of South Africans of Indian descent. Many Phoenix residents patrolled the suburb to prevent its shops and businesses from being looted and some are accused of shooting Black people they suspected of being rioters.
Earlier this week police confirmed that of the 36 killed in Phoenix, 30 were shot and others were stabbed and burned. Police confiscated 264 firearms from individuals and security companies in the area.
According to the police, 22 people have been arrested for the killings in Phoenix and have been charged with murder, attempted murder, and assault.
On Thursday, the demonstrators against the Phoenix killings observed a moment of silence and read aloud the names of those who were killed.
A leader of the demonstration, Marshall Dlamini, a member of parliament for the Economic Freedom Fighters, accused South Africa's government of allowing some members of the Indian community to inflict racist, vigilante violence on Blacks.
“They (the government) have sent police here to our march, but where were they when our people were being killed?” asked Dlamini.
He also accused police and soldiers of conducting searches for the looted goods in townships where Black people live, but not doing so in communities with predominantly Indian and mixed-race residents.