Johannesburg: Five members of an Indian-origin family, including three children, have been killed in South Africa when their home was allegedly petrol-bombed by an unidentified arsonist, police said.
Aziz Manjra, 45, who settled in South Africa 25 years ago, was found dead along with his South African wife Gori Bibi and their three children – Zubina, 18, Mairoonisa, 14 and Muhammad Rizwan, 10 – at their home in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday morning. The family had moved into the house only a fortnight earlier. Their friends said that they had saved every possible cent from Manjra’s earnings as a shop assistant to realise their dream of owning their own home.
A neighbour in the semi-detached house next door, who preferred to remain anonymous, told The Mercury newspaper that her sleep was broken around two in the morning when she heard what sounded like footsteps on her roof. “I heard a man shouting ‘Allah’. This was followed by screaming. I was terrified and too scared to even go and check what was happening,” she said. The neighbour said that she realised that the screams were coming from the top floor of her neighbour’s house.
“I alerted another neighbour and asked her to phone the police,” she said. Although firemen arrived and put out the blaze quickly, it is believed that the family succumbed to smoke inhalation because of limited escape routes as all windows and doors were heavily covered with iron bars. The original homeowners, Fabian and Ronwyn Visagie, told the paper that they had been in the final stages of selling the house to the Manjras.
“They were a nice, normal family who were looking forward to living in their own house,” Ronwyn said. Police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said they were investigating five cases of murder and a case of arson. “We are investigating the circumstances surrounding the matter. At this stage, there is evidence that a petrol bomb may have been thrown into the house,” Police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese was quoted as saying by News24, South Africa’s online news service.