SA and neighbours hold summit on crime

2012-08-17 00:00

A UNITED and multi-pronged approach with co-operation between law enforcement agencies and neighbouring countries is necessary for South Africa and its neighbours to fight cross-border crimes.

This was the call made during a two-day summit on cross-border crime convened between South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique in Durban yesterday. The summit ends today with an exchange of ideas to deal with the problem.

Each of the four countries made presentations about the challenges. Most of the borders between the countries offer points of free illegal access.

Stock theft, human and drug trafficking, car theft and substance abuse were the main points of concern.

The SA Police Service raised concerns about the 42 known illegal passes between SA, Swaziland and Mozambique and 100 landing strips in KwaZulu-Natal that could be used as conduits for illegal trade.

KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize said the province’s borders with Lesotho and Swaziland were the most problematic. He said the government had declared stock theft a priority due to high losses.

“It is estimated that six percent of livestock stolen in KZN cross the border into neighbouring countries.”

He said these borders were often difficult to police as the officers sometimes fell ill because of the conditions they worked under. Also, the recovery of stolen animals was not accompanied by arrests because the thieves were mostly young and agile.

Mkhize said measures put in place during 2011 and 2012 had resulted in the confiscation of contraband worth R16 million. This included 593 kg of dagga and 453 kg of copper.

“The law enforcement agencies recovered 522 head of cattle and 737 head of small stock; 14 000 undocumented foreign nationals were apprehended, 51 stolen vehicles were recovered, while 36 criminals arrested during this period.”

Lesotho Police Commissioner Kizito Mhlakaza said cross-border crimes, especially stock theft, had cost his country millions in revenue.

Swaziland representative Sabelo Hlophe said his country had been turned into a conduit for illegal activity. He called for a co-ordinated effort to deal with the challenges.

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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