The scourge of political killings is once again in the spotlight after ANC MP Sibusiso Radebe was gunned down in Johannesburg on Tuesday evening.
Radebe's murder comes on the back of a string of killings in KwaZulu-Natal last month, which saw four politicians being gunned down.
Experts say it is difficult to determine whether such killings are politically motivated, or simply a result of crime in general.
Radebe was shot dead in Roodepoort on Tuesday night. It is believed he was in a parked car with another person, when two suspects approached the vehicle and opened fire, killing Radebe. Radebe was a member of Parliament's portfolio committee on transport.
Last month, ANC branch leader in the Oshabeni region in KwaZulu-Natal‚ Sifiso Cele, was shot dead at a house in Margate. Two gunmen allegedly entered the home demanding cash and cellphones, before marching Cele to a bedroom where he was shot.
We got to stop the war of Political killings, Sibulawelani— Sibusiso MGi Ginindza (@SbuM3Ginindza) June 20, 2018
Goodnight Honorable Cde: Sibusiso Radebe incumbent member of Parliament😥 pic.twitter.com/hKrBsvjw0c
Days later, Sibuyiselo Dlamini, an Inkatha Freedom Party councillor and Zululand district chairman, was gunned down in his vehicle after his path was blocked by gunmen. On the same night, ANC councillor Musawenkosi Maqatha Mchunu was ambushed in Pietermaritzburg while turning into his driveway. He was shot multiple times and later died in hospital.
Institute for Security Studies researcher Lizette Lancaster said it is difficult to determine whether the killing of a politician is politically motivated or a result of general crime.
"Motives are often unknown. We know the problem of political killings exists and that political contestation does lead to assassinations. There is a problem in South Africa, not just with political killings, but with killing for positions in general. Often, we deal with conflict for positions in a violent ways," Lancaster said.
"We have seen a drop in political murders since the 1990s, when levels of factionalism were high, especially in KZN. There are two types of contestation that this violence stems from — one for municipal office positions and another for party political positions. So these killings don't just happen during elections, but also during by-elections."
The news of the murder of Hon #SibusisoRadebe are most tragic.— Mkhuleko Hlengwa, MP 🇿🇦 (@MkhulekoHlengwa) June 20, 2018
S'bu was a great colleague and friend in Parliament who was full of life.
He was a humble and dedicated MP.
My sincere condolences to his wife, family, friends & the #ANC.#WeLiveOnBorrowedTime #GoneTooSoon #Kunzima pic.twitter.com/G4mWzDwbct
Violence monitor and analyst Mary de Haas said political killings are also a result of a "generally lawless society".
"In some cases, it was known that politicians were trying to expose corruption before they were killed — or that they were part of an opposing political faction. But there are seldom any convictions, or none at all. So nobody can say for sure what leads to these killings, especially when hit men are behind the murders," she said.
"It's based on context. There are many variables. The bottom line, though, is that we live in a lawless society."