Two ANC activists gunned down in Pietermaritzburg as pre-election political killings rage on

An ANC supporter waves their party flag as they arrive for the Gauteng elections manifesto launch on June 5. (Delwyn Versamy, M&G)

An ANC supporter waves their party flag as they arrive for the Gauteng elections manifesto launch on June 5. (Delwyn Versamy, M&G)

An African National Congress (ANC) activist was killed and another critically wounded in Pietermaritzburg as they were leaving a local branch meeting in the city’s Imbali township on Wednesday night.

Badedile Tshapha, 54, and Phetheni Ngubane, 50, were shot at in an apparent ambush after coming from an ANC branch election meeting on Wednesday evening.

Tshapha died at the scene, while Ngubane is in a critical condition in the intensive care unit of a Pietermaritzburg hospital.

Read the M&G’s coverage of political killings in KwaZulu-Natal:
WATCH: 
The political killing fields of KZN
Politics becomes a deadly game in KZN

Police spokesperson, Captain Musa Ntombela, said police were exploring all possible motives. “Two 9 millimetre cartridges were recovered from the crime scene and one 9 millimetre bullet head was also found in the scene. The motive of the killing is unknown at this stage. No arrest has been made at this stage and the case is still under investigation,” said Ntombela.

Shocked ANC members on Wednesday visited the families of the two women to offer their condolences.

Mxolisi Kaunda, KwaZulu-Natal’s newly appointed Transport, Safety and Community Liaison MEC, was among those who visited the families of the two women.

“We are shocked and disturbed at this attack and murder on people who were attending a legitimate event. We call upon the locals to observe restraint and work with the police to ensure that those responsible for this are immediately brought to book,” said Kaunda.

Kaunda would not be drawn on whether the killings were related to infighting within the ANC.

Read more on the political killings crisis around South Africa:
Killings signal the start of the battle for power
Special police task force to probe political killings, says police minister

The killings come barely a week after Nathi Hlongwa, ANC branch chairperson for Ward 12 in the Msunduzi Local Municipality, was gunned down.

The ward has been subject to protests over the nomination of candidates for the upcoming local government elections and last week a number of ANC members marched on the party’s regional offices in Pietermaritzburg to demand that the leadership intervene in the candidate selection process.

A day before Hlongwa was killed, a council official from the same ANC region was killed in an apparent ambush. Simo Mncwabe, who had resigned as a chief financial officer in Mpofana Municipality (Mooi River), also died in a hail of bullets, near Henley Dam outside Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday morning.

So far there have not been any arrests in connection with either of those killings.

ANC provincial spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli confirmed the latest shooting. He said that the party would issue a statement shortly.

The Mail & Guardian’s view:
Political killings profit no one

Jackson Mthembu, the ANC’s chief whip in parliament, sent the following message on the Twitter social media platform: “We are filled with grief, sorrow and pain after the spraying with bullets of #ANCBranchLeaders, last night.” – African News Agency (ANA)

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