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Indian vs. Black: Vigilante Killings Upend a South African Town

Later in the day, the family began seeing pictures and videos of their bodies, bloodied and seemingly lifeless, on social media.

One Indian homeowner in Phoenix, who spoke anonymously for fear of retribution, said that he saw the two men in the street, long after the attack. They were still alive.

He flagged down two police cars, he said, both of which stopped briefly before speeding off. A third police vehicle stopped, called an ambulance and waited for it to arrive before leaving, he said.

But the ambulance, which belonged to a private company, treated the men only briefly before leaving them, still alive, on the side of the road, the resident said. A mortuary van came the next day to pick up them up. Their bodies had been burned, family members said.

One relative, Thulani Dube, said they did not deserve to be killed, even if they had been looting.

At the cousins’ funeral, in a tent set on a sprawling field of brown grass behind a family home in KwaMashu, loved ones cried and seethed, but also thought about the bright times: Mlondi, a 28-year-old father of two, had just celebrated his first wedding anniversary. Delani, 41, a globe-trotting dance instructor, was preparing for a trip to Russia.

Still, they struggled to make sense of what happened — and what it meant for their country.

“I can’t sleep, thinking about what I saw inside the mortuary,” said Mr. Dube, who went to identify their bodies. “Sometimes, the smell fills my nostrils.”

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