Mzwandile Shandu, the Mkhambathini Local Municipality African National Congress (ANC) Ward 7 councillor, was shot dead in uMlazi on Wednesday – 30 days after an initial attempt on his life.
This brings the number of councillors who have been gunned down in KwaZulu-Natal to 21.
Shandu was confirmed dead on the scene while fellow ANC councillor Menzi Mkhize, who was with him at the time, escaped wounded.
Shandu's death is the latest in a string of unyielding political killings in KwaZulu-Natal. In July, the provincial SA Local Government Association issued a report which showed that 17 councillors had been assassinated since last September.
This number has since increased to 21.
According to statistics recently issued by Police Minister Bheki Cele – in his capacity as chairperson of the Inter-ministerial Committee on Political Killings in KwaZulu-Natal – 155 political figures were assassinated between 2011 and September 2023.
This week, News24 ran a special assignment on political killings focusing on the aftermath of the violence in KwaZulu-Natal, where, in some parts, an assassination is colloquially referred to as a "tournament".
Shandu's killing follows that of his comrade and another ANC councillor Mabhungu Mkhize, who was gunned down in Imbali.
KwaZulu-Natal Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi condemned Shandu's killing.
ANC regional secretary Samora Ndlovu told News24 that the first attempt at killing Shandu occurred on August 20. He said the council had been preparing to sign off on providing him bodyguards without the required SA Police Service risk assessment because Shandu's life was clearly at risk.
"In the wake of yet another tragic incident resulting in the loss of a councillor, our province is once again plunged into sorrow and deep concern. Despite our relentless appeals to cease these heinous acts, we are distressed to witness the recurrence of the killing of councillors," Sithole-Moloi said.
She said the provincial Cogta was "troubled by these cruel killings, which undermine our democracy and the will of the people who have elected their leaders".
"Violence will never be a solution to our problems. Instead, it only fosters fear and instability within our council[s]," Sithole-Moloi said.
The ANC will meet the Shandu family this afternoon.
"The ANC in Moses Mabhida Region has learnt with shock of the sad news of the passing of comrade Shandu," said Ndlovu.
He added that the gunmen who shot Shandu as well as the circumstances surrounding the shooting were unknown.
"It is very unfortunate that this incident took place just a few weeks after there was a failed attempt on his life. Also, just a few weeks after yet another ANC councillor, comrade Mubhungu Mkhize, was brutally killed. The ANC is really taken aback by these barbaric killings," he said.
Ndlovu said the ANC was pinning its hopes on law enforcement agencies working around the clock to ensure swift arrests.
He added: "Comrade Shandu will be remembered as a humble man who was true to the aspirations of our people. He served the community of Ward 7 with respect, dedication and utmost excellence since he took the reigns in 2016."