One of South Africa’s leading rap artists, popularly known as AKA, has been shot dead in the coastal city of Durban, along with a friend, his family said on Saturday.
Kiernan Forbes was killed with his close friend, chef and entrepreneur Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane as they were walking towards their car from a restaurant.
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The motive of the killing is under investigation.
“It is with extreme sadness that we acknowledge the passing of our beloved son,” his parents Tony and Lynn Forbes said in a statement posted on AKA’s Twitter account. “Our son was loved, and he gave love in return.”
— AKA (@akaworldwide) February 11, 2023
The 35-year-old began his musical career as part of the rap group Entity before launching his solo career.
Forbes won multiple South African awards, was nominated several times for a Black Entertainment Television (BET) Award in the United States, and was once nominated for an MTV Europe Music Award.
He was booked to perform at a club on Friday night, according to Durban city mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda.
Hours before his death, Forbes posted on Twitter about his upcoming album, Mass Country, which is set for release later this month.
Beauty Dlulane, who heads a parliamentary committee on arts and culture, condemned the killing, describing it as a “hit”.
She called on authorities “to protect South Africans from this new scourge of what seems to be contract and revenge killings where performing artists and DJs seem to be targeted”.
Last November, a star of the house music sub-genre Amapiano, Oupa Sefoka – known as “DJ Sumbody” – was killed alongside his bodyguard in a drive-by shooting in Johannesburg.
Gun violence in South Africa previously killed of one of Africa’s most beloved international artists.
In 2007, reggae singer Lucky Dube was dropping off his teenage son at a relative’s home when gunmen shot him three times at close range during a botched hijacking.
South Africa has one of the world’s highest murder rates.
Gun Free South Africa, an NGO which works to reduce gun violence in the country, has estimated that 30 people are murdered in the country with guns daily.
South Africa last year saw a string of shootings that killed nearly two dozen people at separate bars in working-class suburbs in Johannesburg and in the eastern city of Pietermaritzburg.
In the most recent such incident, eight people were shot dead at a birthday party last month.