Sunday Tribune

Phoenix fears vampires

- ANNIE DORASAMY

THERE are no vampires or cannibals eating children in Phoenix.

This is the firm view of police after rumours that men in long black cloaks with fanglike teeth were marauding the area, seeking children and animals.

To some it may seem like a page out off Stephenie Meyer’s fictional Twilight series of novels, where humans and vampires coexist. But the fear is real.

Phoenix pupils, who refer to the human flesh-eaters as amazimuzim­u (cannibals), say they have heard that a group of 30 men had arrived from Egypt in a cargo container on a ship.

The rumour has dominated talk in taxis, church gatherings and among housewives. But the police have dismissed these claims.

“We don’t know who started the rumour, but it has spread, and people have been phoning us to find out if it’s true. As far as I am concerned, we have had no reports of anyone seeing the vampires or cannibals eat humans or animals,” said Captain Mlamuli Nzimande, a Phoenix police spokesman.

He added that an e-mail featuring two primates attacking a girl in a park in Phoenix was also a hoax.

Sayed Rajack, the chairman of the Phoenix Community Policing Forum and Parents’ Associatio­n of KwaZulu-Natal, said the claims were nonsense.

“There is no evidence to support the claims. It is good to warn children not to interact with strangers, but the talk of cannibals and vampires is ridiculous. It would appear that the rumour was started by unscrupulo­us individual­s who wanted to create panic.

“It could also be a ploy to divert police while crimes are committed elsewhere,” he said.

Teachers have also dismissed the rumours.

“Pupils were convinced there were cannibals and vampires, but teachers were briefed and asked to allay their fears. We worried that children would be afraid to come to school, and we could not afford that, especially at exam time.”

Educationa­l psychologi­st Anand Ramphal said, “Emotions often get the better of people, as in a classroom. They develop a common fear that turns into panic, and feed off each other’s emotional reactions. Mass hysteria is best countered through prevention. It’s best for a calm authority figure to give clear and accurate informatio­n and provide

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