Durban – An Inkatha Freedom Party local government councillor was killed in an apparent ambush between Estcourt and Colenso in KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday night.

Confirming the incident via Twitter on Sunday, IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said Zakhele Mazibuko was killed on Saturday night “in an ambush between Estcourt and Colenso shortly after leaving a party meeting”. According to Hlengwa, Mazibuko was IFP Uthukela district publicity secretary.

South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele also confirmed the incident with the African News Agency on Sunday morning.

Mazibuku’s murder comes just days before the final report of the Moerane Commission of inquiry into political killings in the province is to be presented at the KwaZulu-Natal legislature on Thursday.

Mazibuko is the second IFP councillor to be killed this year and one of scores of politicians killed in KwaZulu-Natal since 2011, which prompted premier Willies Mchunu to establish the Moerane Commission in October 2016.  

In May, IFP PR councillor and Zululand district chairman Samkelo Dlamini was shot dead on the main road in Ulundi. On the same night in an unrelated incident, African National Congress activist and former councillor Musawenkosi Maqatha Mchunu was shot dead as he was exiting his vehicle at kwaPata in the Pietermaritzburg area.

Arrests were made last week for Mchunu's killing. The six suspects, including an ANC councillor, will appear in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Thursday.

Although numbers are difficult to confirm, due in part to the definition of a political killing, the ANC told the Moerane Commission in October last year that according to the party’s own calculations, which were based on law enforcement reports, 80 politicians had been killed in the province since 2011.

Thirty people from various political parties had died since the start of 2016, according to the testimony of ANC provincial chairman Sihle Zikalala. The killings included 19 members of the ANC; three members of the IFP; three members of the National Freedom Party; three members of the South African Communist Party; and one member of the Economic Freedom Fighters, said Zikalala.  

Murders committed since Zikalala’s testimony shifts the total closer to 90 since 2011. Independent researcher and KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas has placed the number at over 100 for the same period.

African News Agency/ANA