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PROJECT: SOUTH AFRICA - A MAFIA STATE

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South Africa faces a significant challenge in the form of numerous quasi-criminal networks and syndicates.


These groups are involved in a variety of criminal activities, including drug trafficking, armed robberies, and fraud. These criminals have transnational connections, making the battle against them even more difficult.

According to the 2023 Global Organised Crime Index, South Africa is currently combating a multitude of quasi-criminal networks and syndicates that are operating on an international scale.

 

THE ENACT GLOBAL ORGANISED CRIME INDEX:


  • South Africa’s criminality score has surged to 7.18 out of 10.

  • This puts the country’s ranking as the third highest in Africa and the seventh highest in the world among 193 countries.

  • The report highlights that South Africa is a breeding ground for various organised criminal activities, including drug trafficking, cash-in-transit operations, poaching syndicates, robberies, and more.

  • To safeguard its citizens, the country must take immediate and assertive action to combat these criminal networks.

  • Mafia-style groups, armed and associated with high levels of violence, are increasingly prominent in major South African cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban.

  • The report highlights widespread corruption in the public sector, with maladministration, procurement corruption, and abuse of authority being the most common forms. 

  • The report acknowledges that South Africa’s judicial system is generally independent, but it also highlights the shortage of judicial staff and financial resources, which undermines defendants’ due process rights.

  • The prisons in the country are overcrowded and suffer from inhumane conditions, leading to an increase in gang violence and abuse.

  • Additionally, South Africa’s extensive coastline, multiple ports of entry, and several land border control points make it an attractive route for illicit trafficking.

  • Criminal networks frequently use illegal crossings along the vast borders with Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and eSwatini to smuggle people, drugs, and illegal poaching, destined for Europe, Asia, and Australia.

  • A website called http://ocindex.net allows policymakers to compare data between countries and identify trends.

  • The Index evaluates the ability to withstand and counter organised crime, considering political leadership, governance, the criminal justice system, the economic and financial environment, and civil society.

  • Its objective is to encourage informed discussions on the consequences of criminal activity and the measures taken in response and to advocate policies that foster resilience to organised crime.

  • For more information, visit the ENACT site: https://enactafrica.org/

 

The South African government and law enforcement agencies need to address the situation with comprehensive strategies, including law enforcement, anti-corruption efforts, and community engagement to counter organised crime and its impact on the country.


 It’s important to note that organised crime can take on different forms and structures, and it is not limited to traditional “mafia” organisations. South Africa, like many other countries, faces the threat of organised criminal activities from various groups with diverse backgrounds.


 

How South Africa is positioned in the ENACT Organised Crime Index can depend on several factors, including the prevalence of organised crime, its impact on society, and the effectiveness of government and law enforcement responses. Here are some general considerations:


  • Crime Prevalence: 

  • South Africa has experienced high levels of crime, including violent crime and property crime.

  • Factors such as poverty, inequality, and social disparities have contributed to the country’s crime challenges.

  • Organised crime groups often exploit these conditions.

  • Drug Trafficking: 

  • South Africa serves as both a transit and destination point for drug trafficking.

  • This includes the trafficking of illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

  • The country’s ports and proximity to drug-producing regions in Africa contribute to this problem.

  • Violent Crime: 

  • Violent crime, including armed robberies, carjackings, and home invasions, is a concern in South Africa.

  • Some of these crimes are associated with organised criminal groups, and the violence used can be extreme.

  • Human Trafficking: 

  • South Africa is a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking.

  • Organised crime networks are involved in human trafficking, including sex trafficking and forced labour.

  • Corruption: 

  • Corruption can undermine efforts to combat organised crime.

  • South Africa has faced corruption challenges in both the public and private sectors, which facilitates the activities of organised crime groups.

  • Countermeasures: 

  • South Africa has implemented various countermeasures to address organised crime, including law enforcement efforts, legislative reforms, and international cooperation.

  • The effect of these measures vary.

  • Economic Impact: 

  • The presence of organised crime has a negative impact on the South African economy, as it deters foreign investment, disrupts supply chains, and results in financial losses.


 

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Mike Bolhuis

Specialist Investigators into

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