Durban - Msunduzi mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla condemned the brutal murder of Ward 41 Councillor Mabhungu Mkhize on Friday, whom he described as a rising star.
The 45-year-old councillor was gunned down along with a passenger in his vehicle in Imbali.
The City said in a statement on Monday that Mkhize was rushed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The mayor said he is deeply saddened by Mkhize’s tragic death.
“We strongly condemn the brutal and senseless attack of Councillor Mkhize. The community of Ward 41 had a dependable leader. He never shied away from challenges and dealt with them head-on.
“We often witnessed him visiting residents and businesses, addressing issues first-hand. His death has deprived us of one of the brightest rising stars who was committed to the development of his community,” said Thebolla.
He offered condolences to the family, friends and the community on behalf of the Msunduzi Council and officials. In addition, the mayor commended the prompt response by law enforcement that led to the apprehension of two suspects.
The City said Mkhize had served in the council since 2021. He also served as a member of the Finance Portfolio Committee chaired by the mayor.
“His wealth of knowledge of local government came into good use as he led with distinction in addressing service delivery issues related to the community of Ward 41,” said the municipality.
The South African Local Government Association (Salga) chairperson in KZN, Thami Ntuli, said the association was concerned about the recent wave of violence targeting councillors.
Ntuli said two suspects had been arrested in connection with the murder of Mkhize and the attempted murder of the passenger travelling with him.
“This horrific incident is a stark reminder of the grave challenges facing our public servants and the dangerous environments in which they sometimes operate. We cannot, and will not, tolerate such acts of violence against those who have been elected to serve our communities,” he said.
Ntuli said drastic measures were crucial to ensure the safety and security of councillors and public servants. He said these incidents of violence against councillors were not isolated and formed part of a disturbing pattern of attacks on elected representatives.
According to Ntuli, there was a recent assassination attempt on Nongoma Local Municipality NFP councillor Mphathiseni Manqele.
“We also mourned the loss of a female NFP councillor in Nongoma due to a similar act of violence.”
Ntuli called on municipalities to act hastily to make sure that relevant security protection was provided to any councillor that received a threat on their lives. He also called on communities to work closely with law enforcement agencies to ensure that those responsible for these acts were swiftly brought to justice.
“It is deeply troubling that such incidents are occurring with alarming frequency. It is incumbent upon all of us, as a society, to safeguard the lives and security of our elected officials and public servants. We believe that only through collective vigilance and co-operation can we put an end to this menace,” he said.
Mkhize’s funeral will be held on September 3 in Pietermaritzburg.