Bishop Gabuza, the chair person for the SACBC Justice and Peace Commission, has made a desperate plea for an end to the rise in political assassinations ahead of next month’s municipal polls, calling the trend “one of the biggest threats to South Africa’s hard-won democracy.”

“We are saddened to see that, after 22 years into democracy, political killings, which are sad reminders of our painful past, are still happening,” He said.

This followed the latest spate of shootings in KwaZulu-Natal, which claimed the lives of two ANC candidates within a few hours of each other.

Those two incidents took the number of seemingly politically motivated killings to at least 12, since the start of the elections period. The province of KwaZulu-Natal has borne the brunt of violence, with police stats showing that some 90% of presumed political killings took place there.

The growing violence, particularly in KZN, is reminiscent of the low-level civil war that raged in the province ahead of the first democratic elections in 1994.

“We should make sure that we do not develop into a country where assassinations of candidates before elections are considered normal. Given the sacredness of human life, even a death of one candidate during an election should be considered as one too many,” Bishop Gabuza said.

Bishop Gabuza also called on the criminal justice system to deal effectively deal with the spate of killings, regardless of the “party political affiliation” of those involved.

With the number of political killings rising ahead of the upcoming local government elections, concerns have been raised over the low conviction rate.

“High conviction rates could serve as a strong deterrent against political killings,” He said