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Commercialized killings: Where jobs are scarce, anyone can be the target of an assassination

When you think about assassinations and contract killings you might imagine mobsters, politicians, royalty and other powerful positions in society. But in some parts of the world you don't need to be a prime minister or mafia boss to become a target. Sometimes all it takes is earning a teaching degree.

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Teacher and acting principal Priscilla Mchunu was assassinated in front of her students at Laduma High School in South Africa
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South Africa's assassination industry

  • This is part of a summer series of podcast interviews by James Wolner of Dakota Spotlight with national and international journalists all using the podcasting medium as a way of telling their stories and seeking justice. Listen on any podcast platform ( Apple , Spotify , Stitcher etc) or below.

A troubling phenomenon is growing in KwaZulu-Natal and other provinces of South Africa. The presence of paid-for assassins, or "hit-men," and contract killings is on the rise.


LISTEN to Dakota Spotlight's interview with with Paul McNally producer of the podcast Alibi.

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According to one study, South Africa's taxi industry nurtures this alarming industry with a recruitment pool where hit-men can be hired. Often the targets are of the traditional sort: politicians, criminals, law-enforcement professionals, royalty.

But in this part of the world, where unemployment is high, you don't need to a politician or judge to be come a target anymore.

The contract killing of a high school principal

Priscilla Mchunu was a 54-year-old teacher and acting principal when she was assassinated in front of her students at Laduma High School in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. But, who would kill an acting principal and why?

That's exactly what Paul McNally, producer of the podcast Alibi , wanted to find out. Season 2 of Alibi is titled Laduma High, and it is a riveting, edge-of-your-seat ride into the very scary world of the assassination industry in South Africa. Dakota Spotlight podcast spoke with McNally from his home to discuss this gripping podcast.

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Pricella Mchunu was a teacher an acting principal when she was a target of a contract killing in South Africa. Contributed / Volume

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Paul McNally is an investigative reporter and a founder and CEO of Volume, a South African Podcasting Company. Season 2 of his podcast Alibi investigates the assassination of a school teacher. Contributed / Volume

Paul-McNally-alibi-podcast.jpg
Paul McNally is an investigative reporter and a founder and CEO of Volume, a South African Podcasting Company. Season 2 of his podcast Alibi investigates the assassination of a school teacher. Contributed / Volume

James Wolner is a Digital Content Producer at Forum Communications Company, Fargo North Dakota and the creator, producer and host of Dakota Spotlight, a true crime podcast. He has lived the Upper Midwest since 2013 and studied photojournalism at California State University at Fresno. He is fluent in English and Swedish.
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