Seven suspects have been arrested in connection with the murders of well-known South African rapper Kiernan Forbes, popularly known as AKA, and his close friend, celebrity chef and entrepreneur Tebello “Tibz” Motshoane.

The two were gunned down outside a restaurant in Durban a year ago, in a killing that shocked South Africans.

Police said hitmen were paid to target AKA but no motive was revealed.

In his career, he had a string of hits including with Nigeria’s Burna Boy.

The suspects, all aged below 36, are due to appear in court on Thursday.

“It was clear that AKA was monitored from the airport and Tibz was not the intended target in the murder on Florida Road in Durban,” Lt Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, the KwaZulu-Natal provincial police commissioner, said in a press briefing on Tuesday night.

“We know they were paid for this,” Lt Gen Mkwananzi added.

He said that the accused men played different roles in the plot to kill AKA.

The suspects who are behind bars include two gunmen who allegedly fired several rounds at the victims, three spotters who are accused of following AKA from Durban’s airport, someone who allegedly sourced the firearms that were used in the ambush, as well as the alleged mastermind.

Some of the suspects are also linked to other murder cases which are unrelated to these killings.

The police announced the arrest of six of the suspects on Tuesday evening. A seventh suspect was arrested on Wednesday morning, police told the BBC.

Police spokesperson Col Robert Netshiunda said the seventh man was a 30-year-old South African citizen originally from KwaZulu-Natal province, and is accused of acting as a spotter.

The two alleged gunmen were found in a hideout in neighbouring Eswatini following a raid which was carried out at the weekend in conjunction with Interpol.

They appeared at a magistrate’s court in Eswatini on Tuesday. Plans are under way to extradite the duo to face murder charges in South Africa.

Exhibits recovered during the arrests include four vehicles, firearms linked to the the murders of AKA and Motshoane and empty cartridges.

Police Minister Bheki Cele acknowledged that the killings of AKA and his friend, which was caught on CCTV cameras, disturbed many people in the country, which has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

“I hope South Africans will sleep better after this,” he said.

Reflecting on the motive that minister said it will “come out in court”.

“We are all interested to know what the motive was. It is very clear that it was not a case of someone waking up in the morning angry. You can see that in the build-up and co-ordination.”

AKA began his musical career as part of the rap group Entity before he launched his solo career, winning several awards in South Africa for his music.


He was also celebrated internationally, with several nominations for awards from Black Entertainment Television (BET) and MTV Europe. He received a posthumous honour at the BET Hip Hop Awards last year.

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