Briefing Paper

Political Killings in South Africa The Ultimate Intimidation

The nature and extent of political killings in South Africa is being discussed in this policy brief and a summary is provided of current information. The overwhelming majority of these killings occur in the province of Kwazulu-Natal. In recent years these have been increasingly localised to specific areas, such as the Umtshezi (Estcourt) municipal area, Ulundi and KwaMashu. Though Mpumalanga was also associated with these killings, it appears that none of this occurred in the province since early 2011. However, during the Apartheid era – political killings took place in a diversity of circumstances. They now tend to be targeted ‘assassinations’, though some also occur in other circumstances. Available information suggests that less than 10% of these killings have resulted in convictions. There is a need for in-depth research and a better understanding both of the obstacles to a more effective criminal justice response, as well as why the problem continues.