South African Institute For Race Relations Condemns Vigilantism In Town Of Phoenix

South African Institute for Race Relations Condemns Vigilantism in Town of Phoenix

JOHANNESBURG (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 05th September, 2021) Race-based vigilantism like the one observed in the South African town of Phoenix this summer is an unfortunate part of life in the country and its perpetrators should be held responsible for the actions, Terence Corrigan, the project manager at the one of the country's leading think tanks, the South African Institute for Race Relations, told Sputnik on Sunday.

In July, South Africa was rocked by massive protests in the wake of the incarceration of ex-President Jacob Zuma for contempt of court. The ensuing civil unrest created tensions between Phoenix's African population and representatives of the Indian community. Indians organized self-defense units that blocked the entry of black Africans into the town center and, in some cases, used violence against them. Thirty-six people, including three Indians, perished in the violence.

"This is actually not an infrequent part of South African life. It is disturbing, since vigilante justice is rife with the possibility of abuse. If this turns out to be the case in Phoenix, those responsible should be held fully accountable," Corrigan said.

The expert added it was up to the state to strengthen its law and order and beef up its security, noting that such incidents continue unabated due to lackluster law enforcement.

"Unfortunately, there is little evidence that the state recognises this. We've heard, for instance, from the President that there is nothing wrong with the toxic programme of cadre deployment that has done so much damage to our institutions - and it is precisely this sort of thing that has produced a stricken police service that is not up to its task," Corrigan said.

Corrigan was quite skeptical of President Cyril Ramaphosa's claims that the South African government will not tolerate vigilante justice, saying "it is doubtful that it has the capacity to reign in either vigilantism or the conditions that encourage it."

Phoenix was created as a workers' settlement on a sugarcane farm. In 1904, Mahatma Gandhi, then living in Durban, founded the Phoenix settlement, near the border with today's city. With the Group Territories Act of 1950, Phoenix was reserved for Indians. They now make up 85% of its population.