Source: Centre for Criminology at the University of Cape Town

Sindiso Magaqa rose to prominence as one of Julius Malema’s key allies after being elected as secretary general of the ANC Youth League in 2011. At the time of his death, he was an ANC councillor and executive committee member for the Umzimkhulu municipality.

He was lauded as having the potential for a bright political future. One evening in July 2017, Magaqa and two other ANC councillors pulled over at a shop in the village of Umzimkhulu on their way back from an ANC meeting. Moments later, they were ambushed by gunmen who fired a hail of bullets at them. All three were rushed to hospital for medical attention. On 4 September 2017, Magaqa died from his injuries, making him the fourth councillor to be killed in the area in 2017.

Magaqa is only one of the many victims of assassinations in South Africa, few of which receive the coverage in the media that his death did. In several cases, the victims of hits had been whistle-blowers or civic activists who had stood up for the truth or who had wished to serve their communities. For this, they paid the ultimate price.

According to the data used for this study, there were 159 reported assassinations in South Africa in 2017– a figure that was up by 36% from 2016 (when 117 hits were recorded) and up by 346% from 2012 (46 hits). From these numbers, it is clear that assassinations are a rapidly growing problem in South Africa.

As the analysis in this report will show, there was a particularly dramatic increase in reported cases between 2014 and the end of 2017.

A contract hit, or assassination, can be defined as ‘a continuous sequence of interactions by one or more persons in which one person solicits another person to have a third person killed for gain, monetary or otherwise. An event begins with the initial exploration of the possibility of having someone killed, and terminates with a murder, attempted murder, or police intervention.

Full report here: Hits and Assassinations in SA