Original Research

The administrative effects of political killings of officials in South African Municipalities

Hulisani Takalani, Phellecy N. Lavhelani
Journal of Local Government Research and Innovation | Vol 5 | a161 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jolgri.v5i0.161 | © 2024 Hulisani Takalani, Phellecy Nyawasedza Lavhelani | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 August 2023 | Published: 28 February 2024

About the author(s)

Hulisani Takalani, Department of Public and Development Administration, Faculty of Management, Commerce and Law, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Phellecy N. Lavhelani, Department of Public and Development Administration, Faculty of Management, Commerce and Law, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa


Background: Politically motivated killings have been an increasing concern in South Africa since the dawn of democracy in 1994. Over the years, various municipalities have seen a rise in the killing of local government officials. While there are records of the number of incidences of killings in provinces such as Kwazulu-Natal, Gauteng and Limpopo, it remains unclear how these occurrences affect local government administration.

Aim: This study seeks to explore the administrative effects of politically motivated killings of officials in South African municipalities.

Methods: Using the adversarial and politicised bureaucratic models, the study relied on secondary sources of data from accredited journal articles, books, conference proceedings, official reports and academic theses. A desktop qualitative review of data was used.

Results: The research found that politically motivated killings of municipal officials have detrimental effects on good governance and service delivery such as staff rotations, destabilisation of the councils, skills erosion and continued political tensions.

Conclusion: This study finds that the killings are part of the deeper crisis of politics and administration dynamics in the public service with detrimental effects on the governance of municipalities in South Africa. The study recommends that local governments introduce stringent minimum requirements for appointing officials to minimise the contestation between politicians and government administrators.

Contribution: This study seeks to stimulate further research interest in the anatomy of political killings, specifically the diagnosis and specific measures to help curb this phenomenon for better governance within local government.


political killings; local government officials; councillors; municipal councils; corruption

JEL Codes

H11: Structure, Scope, and Performance of Government

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities


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