Durban - Political killings in the province point to factions within the ruling party, KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas said.
This followed the slaying of an African National Congress councillor in Newcastle at the weekend.
De Haas said that while the motives for recent killings still had to be determined, she suspected intra-party factions at play.
"The biggest danger comes from within the party and I think to a certain extent those who are fighting corruption find themselves in the firing line," De Haas said.
"The most noticeable thing is the rise in intra-ANC factionalism since 2007. There was violence around nominations in 2011 and that leads us to where we are now," she said.
"I think there is a crisis in local government and so many councillors are not doing their jobs probably. The councillor is meant to be in office for everyone regardless of party, and not be there to dispense patronage."
She said violence surrounding elections since 1994 has been endemic and things are "quite unpredictable".
Politically related murders prioritised
"In the 2011 local government elections there was a figure of 41 people killed in the province," she said.
KwaZulu-Natal Hawks spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo said that in the run up to elections, political killings have become "more of a threat".
"They [the investigation of politically related murders] are prioritised now because they have become more of a threat," he said, saying that a group of detectives had been tasked with probing the murders.
"They work together with the provincial task team that has been established to deal with these matters."
Speaking on the murder of an ANC ward councillor near Newcastle at the weekend, Mhlongo insisted that no arrests had yet been made.
Repeated attempts to contact ANC provincial spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli were unsuccessful.
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