South Africa in the global nexus of international crime

2014-07-17 07:10

As most of us have come to know through the past few years, South Africa has become known globally for its affinity to crime and its potential to attract criminally inclined individuals. Radovan Krejir, Luca Toni, Glenn Agglioti have provided stories and intrigue most screen writers would kill for, in fact many of them practically are at this moment, as I’m sure screen rights are being hotly contested in dark office corners. The scourge of organized crime has set in over time in a relatively quiet fashion over the last few decades, leaving many South Africans unaware of the larger impacts it has on both our society and economy. Being a resident of Durban, the presence of foreign nationals masks that of many criminal syndicates operating under the auspice of these ex-patriot communities. Given their level of secrecy and strict discipline, widespread knowledge or even common dialogue about their existence is hard to come by.

The easiest example to single out is the triads, arriving from all parts of China and Taiwan. Initially their activities were relegated to illegal fishing for shellfish like Abalone (Perlemoén) and the fins of Sharks. Gradual increases in operating capacity and a familiarity with our laws has led them to venture into narcotics and other more illicit activities. For one, the impact of trading in narcotics has seen many reports claiming that the drug trade in the cape is being fuelled by the triads through a bartering system which involves the much prized shellfish for chemicals used to manufacture ‘Tik’[1]. If such claims are true then it can be effectively stated that gang violence in the Cape is being perpetuated by these international syndicates, which have found a rich operating ground in our country. The relative peace and quiet such areas like Kloof in the greater Durban are offer seem to have become beacons for drug dens, where snooping neighbours and prying eyes are few and far between. Even with the latest SAPS raid, where miscalculated amounts (initially of the incorrect substance) were tabled, surety from illicit activity in these affluent areas is questionable at best.

Property values in our country, along with petrol and everything else for that matter, experience increases at regular intervals. Many international syndicates work with money as efficiently and as seamlessly as those in the financial sector. With the US Dollar still preferred as the international trading currency, the buying power of many criminal groups with global links increases exponentially. Although political links with local elites and these groups are yet to be identified, likelihood of possibilities for such relations are not beyond figments of the imagination. The penchant for corruption in South Africa lends credence to this suggestion, and judging by past indiscretions, the office of the President hasn’t been shy in welcoming bedfellows of an unsavoury nature. That said, I should be worth noting that two partner countries of BRICS are commonly known for housing two of the most infamous criminal syndicates; China and Russia. With business relations between partner countries encouraged at the latest meeting in Forteléza, Brazil, the opportunity for criminal syndicates to expand and forge new networks seems imminent. Even where there are legitimate business environments, organized crime has found a way to veil itself in the guise of legitimacy. Shipping and logistics is one of the most popular avenues for such an activity.

The port expansion of Durban over an initial period of ten years will no doubt attract the attention of global criminal networks, eager to exploit a burgeoning maritime sector. Many Chinese businesses have already entrenched themselves in the maritime environment of KZN, setting up freight forwarding companies which deal exclusively with goods from China and the rest of Asia. Research conducted by the Institute for Security Studies indicates the level of involvement that groups have in harbour cities, especially in KZN. The set-up and operation of many hawker shops are owed to the influence of criminal syndicates, which command favours in return from shopkeepers, who provide the cover of legitimacy though their businesses. With the lions-share of investment for the port expansion (projected at R100 bilion) coming from the Development Bank of China, though the transferal of bonds to the South African Parastatal Transnet, our government may have little say on the monitoring and prosecution of potential droves in suspected syndicate operatives. Despite the Department of Home Affairs’ recent revision of immigration laws for foreign nationals, exemptions for BRICS partner countries for economic reasons are likely to occur, given economic development and partnership as primary to SA’s objectives. If my speculations do come to pass, the capacity for investigative and moral discipline in government and the police force will once again become a foremost issue, given past discrepancies[2]. Arrests and prosecutions of well-known figures of the underworld may send a message to crime networks that South Africa is on the mend in resolving its image as a target for international crime. Another message; the arrest of a senior intelligence officer, alleged to be complicit with the crime boss Krejir, leaks the usual fissure of opportunity, has also been picked up. Conclusively, South Africa’s dealing with international crime will depend on three things

1)      How it deals with its impending alliance in BRICS

2)      How it manages to rectify the harshly uniform immigration laws without jeopardising the loss of wealthy and         affluent immigrants, both in terms of skills and money

3)      How it implements admiral vigilance at its ports following the expansion of Durban Harbour, detracting                   corporate involvement and subsequent economic growth



News24 Voices Terms & Conditions.


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.