One of the Phoenix murder suspects, Jeetendra Jaikissoon, reportedly died in police custody of an illness.
It is believed he died in a Durban hospital after being unwell in the Westville Prison.
Correctional Services Spokesperson, Singabakho Nxulamo, told the media on Friday evening, Jaikissoon was transferred to the Durban management area to the hospital complaining about difficulty in breathing and chest pains.
“A detailed investigation will be launched, and this will be assisted by an autopsy report in determining an actual cause of death. Our sincere condolences go to the family of the deceased.”
Jaikisoon last appeared in the Verulam Magistrates Court earlier this week.
The trio who are facing murder charges related to the violence that broke out in Phoenix near Durban during the civil unrest in mid-July appeared in a packed Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
Jaikissoon and brothers Ned and Dylan Govender face one count of murder for the Phoenix killing, and Dylan faces an additional charge of attempted murder.
This comes after more than 30 people were killed three months ago in Phoenix in an outbreak of vigilante violence as South Africa experienced its worst unrest in decades.
Earlier this month, the body of one of the victims was exhumed by the state.
Mondli Majola’s body was exhumed by the state on Tuesday, 12 October.
The 19-year-old was one of the 36 people killed in Phoenix, KwaZulu-Natal, during the unrest in July.
His body was re-examined because there was a dispute over the cause of his death. A government forensic pathologist said the teenager was stabbed to death, while the investigating officer testified that he was shot in the face too.
At the time of his premature death, Mondli Majola was living in Amatoti, Inanda.
However, he was buried at his family home in Flagstaff, Eastern Cape, where his body was privately exhumed on Tuesday.