For many communities in KwaZulu-Natal during the ZumaUnrest the first line of defense was citizen militias that were pulled together rapidly. In a number of communities this was across colour lines and even socio-economic disparities to protect their households and their supply chains. The response was not without challenges or controversy. Often untrained civilians were attempting to enforce law and order from the perspective of protecting their community with at times differing interpretations of who was a part of and who was not a part of the community and this without a clear command structure or mandate in law. With police services overwhelmed and the SANDF yet to arrive communities felt they had little alternative. Most responded as best they could under the circumstances attempting to correct course as they proceeded where mistakes were made. Most seemed to have made a success of it to a greater or lesser degree. While many places saw communities and neighboring communities coming together in the effort in places racial tensions were however heightened. Police are investigating the deaths of 20 people in Phoenix Durban allegedly at the hands of citizens. IOL reported Police Minister General Bheki Cele responded to the situation saying citizens have the right to defend themselves within the law but that racial profiling at roadblocks searching vehicles beating up people and torching cars was simply criminal. (Team of top detectives to probe deaths that occurred in Phoenix during unrest July 19 2021)
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