Case #1462.0

The Hit Squad

Publication Date: September 01, 1998
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In 1985 Frank Chikane, then deputy president of the United Democratic Front of South Africa, is out on bail under house arrest, awaiting trial for treason. The South African government is waging a last-ditch defense of apartheid, resorting to covert and often illegal methods of eradicating the liberation effort. Chikane's branch of the anti-apartheid movement is striving to respond without resorting to similar tactics. His convictions are first tested when his home is firebombed during the night, while he and his family are asleep. He then learns from an informant that he is on an assassins' "hit list," along with 12 community and national leaders, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Chikane and the other leaders decide to pursue a course of action that will elicit the informer's cooperation without endangering his life. In response to the informant's request for money they decide to give him the impression that he will be paid for his information. Chikane also secretly records a conversation with the informant and uses the recording to extract additional details. Because Chikane cannot guarantee the informant's safety, he ends up risking the informant's life for the lives of the targeted leaders.

Learning Objective:
This case asks whether a person's ethical duties change in a "state of nature."

Other Details

Case Author:
Frank Chikane
Faculty Lead:
Kenneth Winston
Pages (incl. exhibits):
South Africa