Could the latest killings in KwaZulu-Natal be part of a bigger plot to eliminate delegates to the upcoming Elective Conference? That’s the question the ANC is asking itself after a second party leader was gunned down at his home in Howick, outside Pietermaritzburg on Thursday morning.

Sithembiso Mhlongo was the African National Congress Youth League’s (ANCYL) Deputy Secretary in the Moses Mabhida region and a PR councillor at the Umngeni Local Municipality.

The National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole says they are bringing back Operation Fiela to deal with the killings.

Sithembiso Mhlongo had conducted an interview with the SABC just three days ago. He was at the scene where a fellow ANC leader had been ambushed and killed.

Mhlongo had condemned the attack and called for peace. But just days later he met the same fate.

It’s believed unknown men posing as police officers knocked at his home. He was shot after opening for the men.

Mhlongo was rushed to hospital but succumbed to his injuries.

Family spokesperson Sipho Mhlongo says, “What concerns us most is that these people pretending to be police officers, the very people we must trust and when he went to open, they fired at him.”

Mhlongo, also a Branch Secretary, had been nominated as a delegate to the upcoming ANC conference.

He is now the second delegate in the region to be killed in three days and the ANC is worried.

KZN ANC Spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli says, “It does worry us a lot because both of them were delegates chosen democratically by their respective branches. We really hope that it is not going to create an impression and a sense of panic and fear among our delegates that probably there may be a target because the death of a second delegate in a row does create an environment that is quite problematic and a feeling that it may be an agenda that is intended to destabilise the ANC. When I heard about it I had the same feeling I had when we were preparing for local government elections where there was a targeted approach to kill our councillor candidates.”

The 34-year-old has been described by the Youth league as a dedicated and humble leader.

The league says there now needs to be a different approach to curb these killings.

KZN ANCYL Chairperson Kwazi Mshengu says, “We will be calling on the ANC and government that we look into this in a different way. There needs to be dedicated police deployed to these hot spot areas because our communities are now living in fear justifiably so.”

A Provincial Organised Crime team unit is investigating.