The African National Congress (ANC) says it is "devastated" by the murder of former ANC member of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature and Cato Ridge's interim chief, Zibuse Mlaba.
Mlaba, 65, died in a hail of gunfire at the Wareing's Shopping Centre, in Cato Ridge, on Thursday.
"We are devastated by the brutal killing of Mlaba who died in a hail of bullets when attacked while opening his office in Cato Ridge, west of Durban, yesterday morning. Although the details are still sketchy at this point and the motive is still unknown, Mlaba was shot dead in full view of the public and he died at the scene," said ANC provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela.
The party was "highly disturbed by the assassination" of Mlaba, who the ANC described as a "disciplined leader".
Ntombela said, "We are deeply shocked and outraged by this senseless killing of our leader. We have lost one of the most dedicated cadres and community workers in the province. While he was regent of the KwaXimba clan, in Ward 1 of eThekwini, Mlaba challenged the traditional way of life in the clan and this led to his life being threatened on several occasions by warlords."
Mlaba was deeply involved in the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa), which helped lead through the period of political violence in KwaZulu-Natal.
"He was part of the Contralesa delegation that visited the then-banned ANC in Lusaka in 1989 to introduce this progressive structure of traditional leadership that dared to operate right inside the hostile cauldron of the erstwhile KwaZulu Bantustan government led by Inkatha," said Ntombela.
After the unbanning of the ANC and other liberation movements, Mlaba became prominent in the then-Natal Midlands Region of the ANC. He was elected repeatedly to the Natal Midlands Region Executive Committee and grew "ANC membership in KwaXimba to unprecedented levels", said Ntombela.
It is still the largest ANC branch in the country.
Mlaba was also a development activist and served as an ANC MPL in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature on various portfolio committees including agriculture, environmental affairs and conservation and human settlements.
"The ANC calls on the law enforcement agencies to track down the assailants and ensure they pay for their sins," said Ntombela.
The party sent its condolences to the Mlaba family, friends and the community of KwaXimba.