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Protecting your community or plain racism? Over 300 Deaths During Looting & Shooting in South Africa

On the 7th of July 2021, former South African President Jacob Zuma was arrested after refusing to appear in court for charges of corruption, his argument being that the acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was biased against him (which Zondo has denied). Former President Jacob Zuma who maintains his innocence was sentenced to 15 months of imprisonment claims that the court has convicted him without a trial as well as not providing him the opportunity to argue a light sentence.

Arrested President Jacob Zuma

Zuma’s arrest is said to have influenced a protest which seems to have open opportunity for lootings across some South African provinces. People of different races and backgrounds were captured on camera on social media entering various establishments, looting and taking what they can.

This raised racial issues across the country as many social media users claimed that the looters were mainly people of colour and their behaviour could not be accepted. The looting then incited uproar as many citizens left their homes to “protect” their businesses, performing stop and searches to ensure that their neighbourhoods were not casualties to the crime.

The issue of protecting neighbourhoods then took a racial turn in the small town of Phoenix in Kwazulu Natal which is a predominantly Indian community.

Videos went viral on social media which showed Indian residents shooting, beating and killing black people, many of which are said to have been passers-by.

Internationally acclaimed choreographer Delani Khumalo is a victim of the Phoenix killings, it is believed that the 41-year-old internationally acclaimed choreographer is one of over 20 people who were killed in Phoenix when Indian community members, who were patrolling the area during the unrest, allegedly assaulted and shot suspected looters.

Left: Scenes in Kwazulu Natal and Right: Murdered Choreographer Delani Khumalo

At a recent media briefing, acting minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshaveni, confirmed that so far it is believed that 337 people lost their lives in the unrest that gripped both Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Acting Minister: Khumbudzo Ntshaveni,

The question that many people had was that of the suspected looted goods, the bodies of those killed were not found with looted goods.

The Phoenix killings raised a subject that many have had conversations about which seems to fall on deaf ears, Indian-Black racism.

Black Kwazulu Natal have spoken out on their experiences on the ill-treatment they have received from the Indian community based on the colour of their skin.

Police in KwaZulu-Natal have arrested five people in connection with murders that took place in Phoenix.

The government has been criticised in some quarters for not coming out strongly enough against those who carried out the killings.

The question then becomes, are you protecting your community or do you only see black people as criminals? Why are more than 300 black people dead, and only 20 arrests have been made?

The looters have committed crimes which are punishable but what becomes of the families who have lost their family members who were not involved in these crimes?

This is something that should be discussed and be at the centre of all media. We hope that unity and humanity aid in bringing justice to these families as well as targeting the main issues that the rainbow nation has, one of which is covert racism that only appears when one group suffers fatal losses.

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