The events that transpired in Phoenix, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), on Wednesday will haunt the Durban North community for a very long time to come.
What was once a quaint suburb deteriorated into a war zone that threatens to fuel racial tensions in other parts of South Africa.
Phoenix massacre: What we know at this time
Gathering facts around this incident has been a tough task. Our reporters on the ground have been unable to access the suburb out of fear of being struck by stray gunfire and from what we understand, law enforcement agencies have urged onlookers to stay as far away as possible from the area.
However, based on information filtering in from social media, we understand that a number of people were gunned down, allegedly by Phoenix residents who refused to leave matters in the hands of the police.
At this time, it remains unclear what the official death toll is, but the video embedded below paints a horrifying picture of what that statistic may turn out to be.
WARNING: The video content embedded below contains imagery of a very graphic nature. Viewers’ discretion is strongly advised.
We have been sharing visuals of all these killings happening in Phoenix but @sabcnews don't even border going there, because it's black people who are being killed.— ᴷʰᵃᵇᵃᶻᵉˡᵃ (@Dazeenho) July 15, 2021
We really have a problem with the media of this country #PhoenixMassacre pic.twitter.com/ZDR0nqw6wE
Phoenix residents who called into East Coast Radio claim that they bore arms after a large group was seen coming into the Durban North suburb from the direction of Mandela Park, an informal settlement nearby.
According to one of the residents, the crowd allegedly opened fire on residents, striking one man in the leg.
“We standing here, the guys were coming up from the road from Mandela Park and started firing shots – one guy on the leg,” he claimed.
Moreover, Phoenix community police forum (CPF) chairperson Umesh Singh has indicated, on various occasions since the start of the shutdown riots, that residents had taken a defensive stance against looters who allegedly targeted the area’s business hub.
However, it’s claimed, when the looters saw no success in penetrating the barricades that bordered shopping centres, they allegedly went into homes and destroyed vehicles and attacked anyone within their reach.
“Community members set up barricades to stop looters ruining the area. The looters were going into homes and burning cars. They were trying to protect the community. The situation is still tense,” Singh claimed.
The other side of the narrative, told by observers on social media, is that Phoenix residents were first to open fire against rioters when they first surfaced in the suburb earlier this week.
The KZN Indians from Phoenix have declared war with black people. They are killing and burning the cars of blacks people passing by their area.— Man’s NOT Barry Roux (@AdvoBarryRoux) July 12, 2021
Questions still remain unanswered on what the legal implications are when, at the height of unrest, private citizens bear arms to kill groups of people they identify as looters. At the time this article was published, the police had not returned to our questions about the situation in Phoenix.
This is a developing story.