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Calling the police to report trouble isn’t something residents of Phoenix, Durban, readily do. "They never respond when you phone for issues like housebreaking or [other matters] in the area," says longtime resident Sham Maharaj. "They always have issues, such as that they’re short-staffed or [have] no vehicles."Phoenix is a largely Indian community of about 600,000 residents. Like countless other communities around SA, it has a big problem with drug use, illegal shebeens and gangsterism.When the unrest hit in July last year, Maharaj and his terrified neighbours watched as mobs looted a nearby mall. A police van made it to the scene — but it had brought just two police officers. They could only look on, completely overwhelmed, as the looters made off with goods."[Afterwards] police were saying they had been told not to use live ammunition, for example, or not to confront people when [they are] overwhelmed, but rather [to] wait for the army," Maharaj says. "They were very unprepared...

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