One of the two Ethiopian brothers who were burned by a rampaging mob amid anti-foreigner violence at a South African township has died, a community leader said on Sunday.
The two were in their shop in Umlazi, southwest of Durban, when it was firebombed on Friday night.
“The hospital has informed us that our [fellow Ethiopian] brother died. They said he died shortly after arriving in hospital,” Durban Ethiopian community leader Ephraim Meskele said.
The surviving sibling had been severely burned and is “fighting for his life” in a hospital, Meskele said.
“This is like a war zone. It is like we are in Syria. I have never seen such cruelty,” Meskele said.
More than 1,000 mostly African foreign nationals have fled their homes in majority-black townships around the eastern port city of Durban since xenophobic attacks and looting erupted about two weeks ago.
Many are currently housed in makeshift camps, as police officials and politicians attempt to restore order.
According to Meskele, the Ethiopian community has been the worst-affected.
Police said the reason for the outbreak in attacks is unclear, amid contradictory reports about the number of fatalities.
Four people had died in the violence, police spokesman Thulani Zwane said, but some media reports put the figure at six.
A total of 17 people have been arrested over the past two weeks.
Meskele accused police officials of failing to prevent the violence and looting of foreign-owned shops in the townships.
“We have heard from our members that some police officers are actually encouraging the looting. That is shameful,” Meskele said.
Violence against African immigrants in South Africa is common, with impoverished locals accusing foreigners of taking their jobs and business.
The nation’s central government has condemned the violence, with South African President Jacob Zuma sending a team of officials to assess the situation.
“We reiterate that there can be no justification for attacking foreign nationals,” Zuma said on Sunday.
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