Johannesburg - One of the men accused of killing two KwaZulu-Natal ANC leaders is a local ANC Youth League branch leader, the party said on Wednesday.

“Sifiso Khumalo is the local branch chairperson of the ANCYL in Port Shepstone,” regional secretary Mzwandile Mkhwanazi said.

Khumalo, 31, pleaded guilty to the murders of Bheki Chiliza and Dumisani Malunga when he appeared in the Port Shepstone Magistrate's Court on Wednesday, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) regional secretary Mbuso Ngubane said in a statement.

Chiliza was a Numsa Port Shepstone local chairperson and ANC branch secretary, and Malunga an ANC branch chairperson.

Mkhwanazi said Khumalo's co-accused, Samuel Cele, 34, pleaded not guilty and would appear in court again on September 19.

The two were arrested on Monday. Malunga, 42, and Chiliza, 39, were shot dead while driving in the Oshabeni area on Sunday, September 9.

Numsa welcomed Khumalo's guilty plea.

“What transpired in court this morning has vindicated our long held suspicion that the cold-blooded murders were politically motivated and well-orchestrated from within,” Ngubane said.

He said the murders were triggered by squabbles over positions of power and government perks.

“It is very troubling that comrades can sit and plot, pull a trigger, and kill their own comrades because of self-centred ambitions and obsession with power and positions.” - Sapa