Save SA convenor Sipho Pityana at the Conference for the Future of South Africa. Picture: @SECTION27news/Twitter

Johannesburg - People were being killed as a result of the fight against state capture, Save SA convenor Sipho Pityana said on Tuesday.

"This struggle has already claimed lives through political violence we see in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and other parts of the country," Pityana said as he opened a conference in Johannesburg in a bid to halt state capture to which the controversial and politically-connected Gupta family and their associates are central.

"State capture has also claimed careers. This includes the SABC 8, Suna Venter for paying the ultimate price - may her soul rest in peace, Pravin Gordhan, Mcebisi Jonas, and others... you are our heroes and we salute you."

The gathering, called the Conference for the Future of South Africa, was organised by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and Save SA. 

Conference chairman, Mandla Nkomfe, said more than 90 civil society organisations had accepted an invitation to the gathering. The delegates would come up with proposals to "stop state capture" and later make a declaration.

Pityana said as activists, they were faced with a difficult task, and that there were many people who were unhappy with their stance against corruption and calling for President Jacob Zuma to step down.

"They call us many names, but we have a common purpose, that is to serve South Africa and that is to stop state capture and put the state into the hands of our people. Once Zuma is gone, it is our responsibility to ensure that the next leaders are credible."

Speakers at the conference includes Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) chairman Popo Molefe and outspoken African National Congress (ANC) MP Makhosi Khoza.

Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi, United Democratic Movement MP Nqabayomzi Nkwankwa and several ANC stalwarts and veterans and analysts attended the conference.