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Durban - Two refugee brothers were burnt to death allegedly by members of a local community in the Adams Mission area of Durban on Tuesday last week.

The police on Monday confirmed that two men had been killed, but said the identities of the victims remained unknown subject to DNA testing.

“Charges of murder are being investigated by KwaMakhutha South African Police Services. It is alleged on 11 December at 6am, two bodies of unknown men were found burnt at Nkangala area, Adams Mission,” one of KwaZulu-Natal’s police spokespersons, captain Nqobile Gwala, told African News Agency (ANA).

Daniel Byamungu of the Africa Solidarity Network (Asonet) said the brothers were from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The men’s names are known to ANA. One was a fridge mechanic and the other a barber. One of the brothers is survived by a girlfriend and two young children, who were both born in South Africa. Both men were in their early 30s.

Byamungu said the murders took place when the brothers were collecting a fridge for repairs from the Adams Mission area. “Other than that we are unable to get any other information,” he said.

“The silence of the local police on repeated attacks and blatant disregard for lives was clear in the assault and ultimate brutal murder of [the brothers]” Byamungu said.

“We call on the president of the country to deal with tribalist vigilante groups and bring justice to the deaths of African people.

He also called on the minister of Justice to act against xenophobia and for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to protect African refugees.

"We ask all human rights groups to stand with the victims and survivors in keeping refugees safe in this country and hold the national government to account for not dealing with this phenomena which has become a violent reality of many African people,” Byamungu said.

Human rights activist Vanessa Burger said she received reports that the incident was first reported to the 10111 Crime Stop number “but police failed to respond”.

“Relatives and representatives of the refugee community have also alleged that the police have proved unhelpful or even refused to provide information to them regarding the incident,” Burger said, adding that she had written to the SAPS acting provincial commissioner in KwaZulu-Natal for assistance with the case. 

African News Agency/ANA