Tension is simmering in South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) ahead of the upcoming local government elections following the murder of a councilor in Durban on Friday.
Siyabonga Mkhize, a Ward 101 candidate in eThekwini Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) was gunned down together with another unidentified man while conducting door-to-door campaigns as the November 1 vote draws nearer.
Two others were injured during the incident which occurred in Cato Crest, west of Durban and were rushed to hospital.
“Two people were shot and killed while inside a car at Cato Crest during a door-to-door campaign,” confirmed KZN police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele.
“The deceased are aged 40 and 46; they both died at the scene and the two who were with them were rushed to the hospital with gunshot wounds for medical attention. The motive of the killing is unknown.”
ANC spokesperson in KZN Nhlakanipho Ntombela also confirmed the fatal shooting.
“Yes, we can confirm ANC candidate comrade Siyabonga Mkhize has been shot dead,” he said.
The latest incident comes less than a week after a high-ranking ANC official in Mpumalanga province was arrested and appeared before a Nelspruit magistrate for allegedly murdering two ANC members in August.
Mandla Msibi has since been sacked as the party’s provincial member of the executive committee for agriculture. He was denied bail on Friday.
His political rival Lifa Nkosi from Barberton told Nation.Africa that the bullets that killed the two men were intended for him.
He said a few moments before their shooting, he had been told to withdraw his candidacy, and changing vehicles on their way to the police station to report intimidation and death threats saved his life.
“I have been sleeping with one eye open since the shooting,” Mr Nkosi said.
“I was the target of that shooting and the gunmen thought I was in that car which was shot at, killing my colleagues in the process. I changed cars after I was threatened.”
Another ANC councilor, Tshepo Motaung, was shot in Mabopane in Pretoria while driving home at the end of September.
He was scheduled to contest to defend his seat but was shot 22 times in what was believed to be a politically motivated assassination.
But it is KZN where political murders, credited to ANC factional battles, have been recorded more.
On September 10, three women were gunned down in Inanda township of Durban during an ANC branch meeting at Buhlebethu Primary School.
Five were wounded when gunmen opened fire at a group of people at the meeting.
Some election hopefuls in KZN have been withdrawing their candidacy due to intimidation while others say they are living in fear.
Earlier this week, an ANC councilor from Umlazi, Meltah Zuma alleges her male rival Bheki Mngwengwe threatened her with death and has since opened a police case.