Later that day, the family began viewing photos and videos of their bloodied and seemingly lifeless bodies on social media.
An Indian Phoenix owner, who spoke anonymously for fear of reprisal, said he saw the two men on the street long after the attack. They were still alive.
He reported two police cars, he said, both of which stopped briefly before rushing off. A third police vehicle pulled up, 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, at the side of the road, specified the resident. A mortuary van came to pick them up the next day. Their bodies had been burned, family members said.
A relative, Thulani Dube, said they did not deserve to be killed, even though they had looted.
During the funeral of the cousins, in a tent erected on a vast field of brown grass behind a family home in KwaMashu, loved ones cried and bubbled, but also thought of the beautiful days: Mlondi, 28, father of two , had just celebrated her first wedding anniversary. Delani, 41, a globetrotting dance teacher, was preparing for a trip to Russia.
Yet they struggled to understand what had happened – and what it meant for their country.
“I can’t sleep thinking about what I saw inside the morgue,” said Mr. Dube, who went to identify their bodies. “Sometimes the smell fills my nostrils.”