Five IFP members were released after the High Court in Pietermaritzburg found that charges of murder and attempted murder could not be proved.

Johannesburg - The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) claimed KwaZulu-Natal wards that were previously held by the ANC and the NFP, according to by-election results released by the Independent Electoral Commission on Thursday.

The IFP snatched Ward four, in Nkandla, from the African National Congress.

Nkandla, which is President Jacob Zuma's hometown, has recently been in public eye, after it emerged that the president's private residence in the town was undergoing a reported R200 million upgrade.

The matter is currently being investigated by a public works task team.

The Nkandla ward became vacant after the councillor died of natural causes.

The IFP also won Ward two, in Hlabisa, which was previously held by the National Freedom Party.

The councillor's post in the ward became vacant when the NFP's Mondli Jele resigned. Since last year's local government elections Hlabisa had been run by an ANC and NFP coalition.

The IFP retained Ward 39 in KwaMashu, Durban, which was also contested by the NFP and the ANC.

The IFP and NFP have been at loggerheads in the ward since early August.

At least five IFP supporters or members, and the son of an NFP leader, have been killed in the area since then.

The ward was previously held by the IFP's Themba Xulu. He was found shot dead in Inanda on October 7 after being abducted from his home two days earlier.

The ANC managed to retain Ward 72 of the eThekwini municipality.

The previous councillor Mthembeni Shezi (also known as Msizeni Ximba) was shot at a meeting at the Imbaliyethi High School on September 26.

Shezi, branch deputy chairman Sbu Mpanza, and ward committee member Bulelani Mjoli were wounded in the incident. Shezi died in hospital the next day.

Ward three Msukaligwa (Ermelo) municipality in Mpumalanga, which was held by the ANC, was uncontested.

The ANC also retained Ward 22 of the Lukhanji (Queenstown) municipality in the Eastern Cape and Ward 12 of the Setsoto (Senekal) municipality in the Free State.

The Democratic Alliance retained Ward two of the Bitou (Greater Plettenberg Bay) municipality in the Western Cape.