Sunday World

Sorrow, anger in the wake of the Phoenix massacre

Vigilante groups believed to have killed 24 people

- By Sandile Motha

Wendy Mabaso is immediatel­y overwhelme­d with sorrow and anger as she relives the horror of watching her friend, who had just given birth, being dragged out of a moving vehicle before being shot several times by a vigilante group who were manning various entry points in Phoenix last week.

Mabaso said the vivid recollecti­on of the terrifying scenes of how her childhood friend Zoleka Msomi begged for her life before being shot dead will haunt her forever.

She said they were on their way back from a local clinic when things suddenly took an unexpected turn as an angry group armed to the teeth ordered their vehicle to stop and demanded that her friend, whom she affectiona­tely calls Zoe, step out of the vehicle.

“On that morning, I had accompanie­d her to a local clinic where she gave birth to a girl. She was sitting in the back seat with her newborn when they were attacked; she went out first and left the baby behind. Before I could alight from the vehicle, the mob began screaming, ordering that we must be killed. I managed to accelerate and fled leaving her behind, I feared for the baby inside more than I feared for our lives,” said Mabaso between sobs.

She said she and the baby survived the ordeal and were able to reach home. She notified other residents about what had occurred and a frantic search for the young mother ensued.

“We made the gruesome discovery of her lifeless body dumped near a garbage dump. She was shot several times and doused with something that looked like battery acid.”

This is one of many harrowing stories of fear and anguish that grips many families in Kwazulu-natal whose loved ones have yet be to be found, but are suspected to have perished in the socalled Phoenix massacre in which more than 24 people were killed in what is widely believed to be racially motivated

The looters were breaking into people’s houses, we had to defend ourselves

mass murders. The violent looting of businesses last week is said to have ignited racial tensions, which had been brewing for years between Indians and blacks in Kwazulu-natal.

Anita Rampersad of Brookdale, a residentia­l area under Phoenix, also has her own terrifying story to tell, saying her husband died while protecting the family shop.

“They stormed our shop and started looting, my husband tried to fight off the looters. A stampede ensued and he was overpowere­d by the strong crowd falling badly on his head, dying instantly.

“He died in my arms and we are finding it hard to come to terms with the circumstan­ces which led to his death.”

Another resident, Vernon Kumar, a Phoenix community activist, said the residents were under siege and acted in rage. “The fear in the Indian community was fuelled by numerous social media messages before the unrest threatenin­g an imminent attack on the Indian community. Police were nowhere to be found, the looters were breaking into people’s houses, we had to defend ourselves.”

Mathew King, a member of a local community policing forum, said the vigilantes were stealing from the looters using force. “The vigilantes were heavily armed and stole the looted items from blacks pretending that they were reclaiming their goods.

When we tried to intervene with the police, we met the same brutality, so police fled the scene.

“Some of these goods have been recovered by police in the same community who claimed they were being attacked.”

The recorded national death toll in the aftermath of the violent upheavals that rocked SA stands at over 300, with more than 200 of these deaths recorded in Kwazulu-natal.

 ??  ?? A neighbour holds a baby that survived the Phoenix massacre after the mother was dragged from her car as she drove home from a clinic and was allegedly murdered by vigilantes.
A neighbour holds a baby that survived the Phoenix massacre after the mother was dragged from her car as she drove home from a clinic and was allegedly murdered by vigilantes.
 ??  ?? Calls are made to arrest members of a vigilante group that went on the rampage and murdered people in Phoenix.
Calls are made to arrest members of a vigilante group that went on the rampage and murdered people in Phoenix.
 ??  ?? A taxi is burning after being set alight by a vigilante group in Phoenix, Durban.
A taxi is burning after being set alight by a vigilante group in Phoenix, Durban.
 ??  ?? Cars along the Phoenix highway after being set alight.
Cars along the Phoenix highway after being set alight.

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