One of South Africa’s leading rappers, popularly known as AKA, has been shot dead outside a restaurant in the coastal city of Durban.
Kiernan Forbes was killed along with his close friend, the chef and entrepreneur Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane.
The pair are thought to have been on their way to a nightclub for a performance as part of Forbes’ birthday celebrations when they were shot.
The motive of the killing is being investigated.
Police spokesperson Colonel Robert Netshiunda has told the BBC that the rapper and his friend were walking to their car when they were approached by two armed men who shot them at close range.
The assailants then fled the scene on foot.
Police have said they don’t want to speculate on whether the murders were a result of a hit but said that possibility cannot be ruled out.
Forbes 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 a Black Entertainment Television (BET) Award in the US and an MTV Europe Music Award.
Hours before his death, the 35-year-old posted on social media about his upcoming album, Mass Country, which is set for release later this month.
Forbes’ parents have paid tribute to him in a statement posted on one of his social media accounts.
“To us, Kiernan Jarryd Forbes was a son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend, most importantly father to his beloved daughter Kairo,” they wrote.
“To many, he was AKA, Supa Mega, Bhova and the many other names of affection his legion of fans called him by. Our son was loved and gave love in return.”
Motsoane, who was also AKA’s former manager, has been described on social media as “a true gentleman”.
South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world and shootings are not uncommon.
The charity Gun Free South Africa, which works to reduce gun violence in the country, estimates that 30 people are murdered in the country with guns daily.