Excerpt from the book – When love kills: the tragic story of AKA and Anele

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

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

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

Melinda Ferguson is the best-selling author of her addiction trilogy Struck, Hooked and It crashed. Read the excerpt below.


The snap

When it emerged on Valentine’s Day 2013 that six-time Paralympic gold winner and international athletics favorite Oscar Pistorius had shot dead his beautiful model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, ​​it was met with collective disbelief.

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

As time passed and details of his “darker” side emerged, the denials slowly dissipated. In 2014, when he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to prison, only a few staunch supporters continued to insist on his innocence.

This did not happen with AKA and the suspicious death of his girlfriend Anele Tembe, 22, despite some disturbing similarities between these tragedies.

AKA was never arrested or charged with anything. After several statements to the police, Anele’s death was conveniently filed. At that time, the National Prosecutor’s Office refused to prosecute and reserved the right to do so only if the results of the investigation, scheduled for April 2024, demonstrated otherwise.

The nation moved on and continued streaming AKA’s music. But some, like Anele’s father, Moses Tembe, believed her daughter had not committed suicide. The inference was that it was very possible that AKA had gotten away with it.

Oscar Pistorius was considered a villain and locked up. (In late 2023, he was paroled 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 mercurial Twitterati eventually moved on to their next target.

In fact, AKA’s star has shone brighter than ever in his death. After his murder in February 2023, his value as an artist grew to dizzying heights as the weeks and months passed.

Two weeks after his murder, his new album, Mass Country, was released as planned while Kiernan was still alive. Less than eight hours after its release, Mass Country surpassed 10 million streams on Spotify, becoming their most streamed album to date. Within two weeks, it was certified gold. It then went platinum. It seemed like everything was normal 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, she earned a historic seven nominations at the SAMAs and won the highly coveted Male Artist of the Year. .

The way Kiernan died (shot down like international rapper icons Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.) may have contributed to his tough-guy reputation in our violence-plagued culture. Perhaps the sight of his murder captured on CCTV erased all memory of his past flaws and transgressions. Within days of his death, he emerged as a savior, resurrected from the grave on a modern-day Golgotha, to become a national hero.

Some might bristle at the idea of ​​comparing Oscar Pistorius to AKA. After all, Oscar was proven guilty, albeit of “unintentionally” killing Reeva, while Kiernan’s version of the events leading up to the death of his fiancée has never been proven in a court of law.

They were also two very different people. Oscar was a white amputee athlete and Kiernan was a healthy, mixed-race rapper. However, the comparison lies not so much in their characters (although there are notable similarities) but in the way the public responded to his celebrity and, in many ways, enabled his toxic behavior. DM

When love kills: the tragic story 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!