Breaking the bombers: lessons for tackling organised crime

How did South Africa’s police defeat Pagad, a powerful vigilante group that terrorised Cape Town two decades ago?

12 OCT 2023  

Event details

Date: 2023-10-12

Time: 05:00 to 06:30

Venue: Online via Zoom (register to attend online) or in person, ISS Conference Room, Pretoria (register to attend in-person)

Event Enquiry: Content-related: Gareth Newham, Email:
Logistics-related: Helen Chanda, Email:

Attend via webcast

Rampant organised crime and corruption have crippled the police’s ability to enforce the law in South Africa. Can the country deliver justice for complex and violent crimes – a task requiring not just skilled and dedicated investigators and prosecutors, but the backing of their political principals?

This seminar launches Dr Mark Shaw’s latest book about how, more than 20 years ago, the police got it right when they broke the notorious Pagad death squads. Between 1996 and 2001, more than 400 bombs and countless hits on drug lords and gang bosses tore through Cape Town. Speakers will discuss lessons from this incredible tale for tackling organised crime in South Africa today.

Breaking the Bombers: How the hunt for Pagad created a crack police unit by Mark Shaw is published by JonathanBallPublishers.

Moderator: Lizette Lancaster, Crime Hub Manager, Institute for Security Studies


  • Dr Mark Shaw, Director, Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime
  • Bulelani Ngcuka, former national director of public prosecutions, South Africa
  • Adv Anton du Plessis, Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions, South Africa

Image: © Amelia Broodryk/ISS

This event is funded by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The ISS is also grateful for support from the members of the ISS Partnership Forum: the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the European Union, the Open Society Foundations and the governments of Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

Professional Policing


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