John Steenhuisen whisked away in Phoenix due to ‘security threat’

The fierce contest in eThekwini, the only metro in KwaZulu-Natal, which is expected to be the battleground for the provincial and national elections, came to a head this week.

DA leader John Steenhuisen had to hastily leave the venue after reports that there would be bloody violence. Steenhuisen was in KZN as part of his party’s final push to win the hearts of voters in the province.

The DA has made it known that it wants to wrestle power from the governing ANC, failing which it aims to amass at least 25% of the provincial vote share.

Downplay threats

Addressing Phoenix residents in a parked hall, Steenhuisen sought to downplay the threats by disgruntled residents to storm the hall and cause havoc on Wednesday.

“People want to blame the DA because there is no water in the taps. If you want someone to apportion blame to, don’t knock on the door of the DA. Knock on the door of the ANC, EFF, and smaller parties governing eThekwini metro,” he lashed out.

According to an insider, the party had gathered intelligence that a vigilante group had threatened not to allow Steenhuisen to deliver his election campaign message, saying the DA had failed the residents. This prompted an additional source of private security.

DA in charge of all Phoenix wards

Mervyn Ramparsad, who is a member of a strong group calling themselves the Voice of Phoenix, explained to Sunday World that the DA was disingenuous by blaming other parties for its own failures.

“During the 2021 local government elections, we gave them all the wards. But instead, they ran Phoenix to the ground. We will not allow the Indian community to be used and discarded. We will fight to the bitter end,” Ramparsad charged.

But Steenhuisen defended his party, saying it had waged a fierce battle with the city of eThekwini to ensure that the residents of the predominantly Indian township get the services that they desperately need.

“On the 8th of August, we are taking the municipality to court on behalf of the Phoenix, Verulam and all other eThekwini residents without water,” said Steenhuisen.   

Phoenix was the centre of deadly scenes during the July 2021 unrest, where more than 35 people lost their lives in one area alone.

Senseless reign of terror

During the height of the deadly riots, the Indian community mobilised themselves in vigilante groupings, killing anyone they believed was out to loot. Innocent people were caught in the crossfire, with black Africans recording the highest death toll as people of Indian origin, assisted by armed private security, unleashed a senseless reign of terror.

In the aftermath of the atrocities, leading up to the 2021 municipal elections, the DA went on to erect election posters with a message: “The ANC called you racists.” “The DA calls you heroes”. The party subsequently won all the five wards in Phoenix.

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