In Analyzing Organized Crime, Publications, Violence Fragility

Spanish version:

How, when and where organised crime is involved in violent activities has been the focus of several reports from the Global Initiative in different contexts. Measuring violence provides ways to determining not only the impact of organised crime but also an indication of how consolidated or fragmented different criminal markets may be. Yet the literature on hits, contract killing and its links to organised criminal activity is surprisingly underdeveloped.

In a newly published book, Hitmen for Hire: Exposing South Africa’s Underworld, GI Director Mark Shaw has focussed on the “industry of violence” in South Africa, shedding light on the commercialisation of contract killing and what this means for the country’s evolving underworld.

“Mafia-style” violence rises from the point in which state officials and law enforcement agents intersect with politics, money and criminality, where political appointments of self-serving individuals benefit from their close proximity to organised crime. Hitman for Hire investigates the often under-examined nexus between criminality, corruption and violence in the country. Navigating through a tangled labyrinth of hitmen, informers, crooked officials and businessmen, the book sheds light on hitmen themselves, and the context in which they live and work as professionals,  as well as the economies in which they operate.

Hitmen for Hire draws on over a thousand hit cases from the past seventeen years, exploring the impact these assassinations have on the evolution of both legal and illegal economies in South Africa and the challenges the country faces in fighting political-criminal networks.  Check out Assassinations Witness SA, an ongoing project to collate data on targeted killings and assassinations in South Africa and to raise the profile of their impact on political, economic and social life in the country.

Hear an excerpt and interview with Mark on the book.

Hitmen for Hire is now available on Amazon: 

Read an excerpt in the Mail and Guardian: Hitmen, Mafia and Control – South Africa’s Underbelly, 16 August 2017

Read a great review by Marianne Tham in South Africa’s Daily Maverick: Killers for Hire nourishes Assassins in South Africa, 11 August, 2017.

For more information, or an interview with Mark Shaw, please email the Secretariat at