The murder of Durban lawyer Victoria Mxenge has sparked off intense violence in the townships surrounding Durban, leaving 19 people dead within the last few days. The most severe violence occurred after a memorial meeting for Mxenge on Wednesday night.
According to eye-witnesses, the meeting was disrupted by about 100 stick and spear-wielding men who entered the packed hall in Umlazi and clashed with the crowd. Earlier, part of the crowd at me meeting, railed by the United Democratic Front, had erected barricades in the street outside the hall because they had baud that the men would be coming.
However many of the men managed to enter the hall and clashed violently with the crowd. Eye-witnesses described an all-out battle between the two groups. After a short while, police arrived and used teargas and rubber bullet to disperse the crowd.
By the end of the evening, 12 people had been certified dead on arrival at hospital and at least 109 were injured. Two more people died after-being admitted. Another five people have died in various incidents during the week, three of them yesterday. After the meeting, there were numerous incidents of stone-throwing, burnings and looting.
Indians, many of them traders in the area were prime victims of the violence. All the shops in Inanda were burnt to the ground. As many as 500 families apparently fled the townships in terror and special arrangements were being made to accommodate them.
At noon yesterday, violence flared again with the burning of a store and a refuse truck near the Indian township of Phoenix. Late yesterday, the Minister of Police, Louis la Grange, and the Chief Minister of KwaZulu, Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, met with senior police officer in Durban to discuss the violence.
According to SAPA, the State President PW Botha, has said the government but no plans to extend the State of Emergency to the Durban area.