Minister: Fight crime like The Untouchables

2012-02-24 19:32
Cape Town - Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies wants local authorities to copy the methods 1930s crimefighters used against Chicago gangster Al Capone in their battle against smugglers and organised crime.

Davies told Parliament's trade and industry portfolio committee on Friday that his department and other agencies would fight organised criminals more "intelligently" by prosecuting them on lesser charges, as was done with Capone, who was eventually arrested for tax evasion.

"We don't have to catch them on the most serious offence," Davies said.

"We can learn from the lessons of Al Capone. Al Capone did a lot of very naughty things. He murdered lots of people, but he ended up going to jail for tax evasion."

Davies said illegally imported and exported sub-standard goods, pirated DVDs, drugs, abalone and mining products were flowing through South Africa's borders.

The department, he said, faced an uphill battle, but was working with various government agencies to "step up its work".

"We are trying to work much more intelligently so we can recognise these multiple offenders. Catch them on anything and stop them operating," he said.

Davies said trade between South Africa and its neighbours could be made far more efficient by investing in infrastructure and reducing red tape.

At Beit Bridge border post, for instance, traffic often moved only one way.

"We need it to go two ways [at the same time]," Davies said.

"We also need to harmonise computer systems at border posts and things like that."

South Africa had to reduce the pressure at border posts, but doing so required overcoming a number of bureaucratic obstacles.

In some cases this had to do with the harmonisation of road traffic permits, or the recognition of drivers' permits, he said.
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