One of South Africa’s hottest rap artists, Kiernan Forbes, known as AKA, has been shot dead outside a restaurant in the southeastern city of Durban, his family said Saturday.
The 35-year-old 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.
“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.”
He was gunned down on Friday night alongside another man while they were walking towards their car from a restaurant, along one of Durban’s most popular roads.
“They were allegedly approached by two armed suspects who walked to them from across the street and shot the victims at close range,” police said in a statement.
He was booked to perform at a club Friday night, according to Durban city mayor Mxolisi Kaunda.
Some six hours before his murder, AKA had tweeted about his upcoming album ‘Mass Country’ which was due to be released later this month.
“I’ll be doing video calls, chats, exclusive snippets and all things great as we move towards the 24th of Feb. Chat soon!!!” he wrote on Twitter on Friday afternoon.
The motive of the shooting is unknown, and police are investigating.
Beauty Dlulane, who heads a parliamentary committee on arts and culture, condemned AKA’s murder, 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”.
High murder rates
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.
South African gun violence famously claimed the lives 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.
Many people have licensed firearms for personal protection and there are many more illegal guns in circulation.
Last year the country recorded several mass shootings at taverns, while eight people were shot dead at a birthday party last month.
Gun Free SA, a lobby and advocacy charity fighting to prevent gun violence in South Africa, estimates that 30 people are shot and killed each day in the country.
Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola has called for “the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators”.