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‘AKA had possibly gotten away with murder’ — When Love Kills: The tragic tale of AKA and Anele

‘AKA had possibly gotten away with murder’ — When Love Kills: The tragic tale of AKA and Anele
‘When Love Kills: The tragic tale of AKA and Anele’ by Melinda Ferguson. (Photo: The Reading List)

Melinda Ferguson’s contentious and explosive new book ‘When Love Kills: The tragic tale of AKA and Anele’ is on shelves now.

On 11 February 2023, the nation woke up to the news that hip-hop megastar, Kiernan “AKA” Forbes had been gunned down in cold blood in Durban. His good friend and ex-manager Tibz had been killed in the crossfire. Over the following weeks, this would become the biggest social media story since the Oscar Pistorius trial.

Sensational theories abounded. Was the hit an act of revenge for the death of his girlfriend Anele Tembe? Was it an inside job by one of Kiernan’s inner circle? Was he killed by a fellow rival rapper or gangsters in the club underworld?

This is the tragic story of a successful award-winning hip-hop hero, whose life unravelled when he embarked on an obsessively toxic relationship with Anele Tembe.


Melinda Ferguson is the bestselling author of her addiction trilogy Smacked, Hooked and Crashed. Read the excerpt below.


The Snap

When news broke on Valentine’s Day in 2013 that six-time Paralympic gold winner and darling of international athletics Oscar Pistorius had shot and killed his beautiful model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, it was met with collective disbelief.

How could South Africa’s national hero, who had conquered so much in his life, who had achieved the impossible as a disabled athlete and held our country’s flag high, suddenly have transformed into a cold-blooded killer?

As time went by and details of his “darker” side emerged, the denials slowly dissipated. By 2014, when he was found guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to prison, only a few die-hard supporters were still insisting on his innocence.

This did not happen when it came to AKA and the suspicious death of his 22-year-old girlfriend Anele Tembe, despite some eerie similarities in these tragedies.

AKA was never arrested or charged with anything. After he’d made a number of statements to the police, Anele’s death was conveniently shelved. At the time, the National Prosecuting Authority declined to prosecute and reserved the right to do so only if the results of the inquest – scheduled for April 2024 – proved otherwise.

The nation moved on and continued to stream AKA’s music. But some, like Anele’s father, Moses Tembe, believed that his daughter hadn’t committed suicide. The inference was that AKA had quite possibly gotten away with murder.

Oscar Pistorius was deemed a villain and locked up. (In late 2023, he was released on parole after serving less than nine years.) And while AKA was accused of all sorts of damning things on social media after Anele’s death, the fickle Twitterati eventually moved on to their next target.

In fact, AKA’s star has shone brighter in death than ever before. After he was assassinated in February 2023, his worth as an artist grew to dizzying heights as the weeks and months rolled by.

Two weeks after his murder, his new album, Mass Country, was released as planned when Kiernan was still alive. Less than eight hours after its release, Mass Country surpassed 10 million streams on Spotify, becoming his most streamed album ever. Within two weeks, it was certified gold. It then went platinum. It appeared to be business as usual for those in the music industry.

In June 2023, Sony hosted a private brunch to celebrate the milestone. Lynn Forbes received gold and platinum plaques on behalf of her son. In awards season, AKA won Best Hip-Hop Artist at the Metro Awards in May 2023. Six months later, he scored a historic seven nominations at the SAMAs and won the much-coveted Male Artist of the Year.

The way in which Kiernan died – shot down like international rapper icons Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. – may have added to his badass reputation in our violence-plagued culture. Perhaps the sight of his murder captured on CCTV erased all memory of his flaws and past transgressions. Within days of his death, he emerged saviour-like, risen from the tomb at a modern-day Golgotha, to become a national hero.

Some might be enraged by the idea of comparing Oscar Pistorius to AKA. Oscar was proven guilty, after all, albeit of “unintentionally” killing Reeva, whereas Kiernan’s version of the events leading up to his fiancée’s death has never been tested in a court of law.

They were also two vastly different people. Oscar was a white amputee athlete, and Kiernan was a mixed-race, able-bodied rapper. However, the comparison does not lie so much in their characters (although there are notable similarities) but rather in the way that the public responded to their celebrity and, in many ways, enabled their toxic behaviour. DM

When Love Kills: The tragic tale of AKA and Anele by Melinda Ferguson is published by Melinda Ferguson Books (R320). Visit The Reading List for South African book news, daily – including excerpts! 


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  • Lenka Mojau says:

    Well it is a sad story, women might be weaker physically but have stronger or upper hand to withstand emotions than men hence there are fewer incidents where they commit suicide. In incidents where they try to commit suicide they are not as successful as men. I just believe that 50% of the time they commit suicide it is a ploy by their partners. Therefore there are 95% chances that AKA was involved directly or indirectly. Why does it look like a political murder, most murders committed this way is a modus operanti of CIA. The girl was simply Black and unknown.

  • Man Ndi says:

    The “unintentional” killing verdict was overturned on appeal and he was convicted of” intentional” killing of Reeva Steenkamp.

  • Rae Earl says:

    What became apparent in Oscar Pretorius’s case was that he had a violent temper. So violent in fact, that when he had the alleged furious argument with Riva Steenkamp she locked herself in the toilet, to avoid physical violence maybe? Pistorius then lost it completely and fired bullets through the door killing a now probably terrified girl. Less than 9 years in jail. One can only feel for the Steenkamp family and Riva’s friends.

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      who knows if Riva was sitting on the windowsill of a high building and Oscar lost it he could have pushed her out of the window, pictures were shown of AKA reaping doors apart in a domestic conflict with his girlfriend and these guys like to consume toxic stuff sometimes.

  • Rae Earl says:

    Oscar Pistorius, sorry for the error.

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