n SA Crime Quarterly - A provincial concern? Political killings in South Africa

Volume 2013, Issue 45
  • ISSN : 1991-3877



Politically motivated killings have occupied a relatively marginal position as an issue of public concern in South Africa since 1994. This may reflect the provincial nature of the problem, since such killings have mainly occurred in KwaZulu-Natal, with a much smaller number occurring in Mpumalanga and even fewer recorded elsewhere. Based on a scan of documentary information, this article estimates that there have been approximately 450 political killings in KwaZulu-Natal since 1994, with most having taken place in the mid and late 1990s and just under 25% (107) since 2003. The root of the problem in KwaZulu-Natal may be the militarisation of the province during the apartheid period. Some political killings in the province continue to be linked to inter-party conflict that has roots in that time. However, political killings since the end of apartheid are mostly linked to local political rivalries and connections to criminal networks, notably in the taxi industry. Though the problem is concentrated in specific provinces it is likely to impact on political life in South Africa more broadly.

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