South Africa has become a preying ground for organised crime syndicates, loosely formed networks of criminals who are more than willing to use violence to achieve their objectives.
The recent murder of an anti-corruption official at a Free State municipality over the festive season has once again highlighted the extent of organised crime in the country, and the need for urgent steps to be taken to combat this growing scourge.
While arrests are still to be made, authorities strongly believe that the murder of the official, who was found by police with her hands and feet bound in the locked trunk of a motor vehicle on Christmas Eve, was sanctioned by one of many crime syndicates operating in the country.
This is considering her revered and high standing in the municipality’s anti-corruption special investigative unit.
Local municipalities have long been riddled by rampant corruption, including bribery, embezzlement of funds, as well as irregularities in employment procedures and procurement.
Even the Institute for Local Government Management, which represents South African municipal managers, has noted with concern the throttle-hold that organised crime has on these institutions.
Severely compromising state’s ability to operate at a grassroots level, the situation serves as a stark reminder of the negative impact that organised crime can have on democratic societies, especially in developing countries.
In South Africa, these mafia-styled syndicates have fostered connections with corrupt representatives of the police services, where internal control measures and vetting processes of officers are notoriously weak, to brazenly flout the rule of law.
While organised crime in the country can be dated back to more than century ago when gangs and robbers started collaborating, a surge in these operations was first noticed after the advent of democracy in 1994.
This is when the country joined the international community and became exposed to global political and economic trends – and, of course, criminal activities.
This is on the back of a robust banking sector, in addition to rapid advancements made in information and communications technology, which have enabled the transfer of large sums of money around the globe within seconds, while encrypted communication systems make it virtually impossible to trace calls.
This digital revolution is also behind the marked growth in cyber-related crimes, an increasing global risk costing South Africans, including corporates and individuals, about R2,2-billion every year.
Another driving force behind the growth in organised crime in the country over the years is the breakdown in border controls as is evidenced by a notable increase in the smuggling of drugs, illegal immigrants and firearms into the country.
Meanwhile, porous border have led to a rampant increase in the trade of endangered species, as well as export of stolen cars and other goods.
For example, South Africa lost about US$1-billion from illegal gold mining and smuggling operations between 2012 and 2016 – the height of the “state capture” period.
In most instances, these crimes are interrelated. Stolen cars, for example, are taken to specific points across South Africa’s borders where they are sold and the money generated from these activities then used to buy the contraband that is brought into the country and sold at a large profit.
Many of these firearms have been used in violent clashes between rivalling taxi companies and the highly-publicised farm murders in the country.
They have also been used to carry out vehicle hi-jackings, as well as bank and cash-in-transit robberies.
The increase in these business-related crimes is directly proportional to the rise in organised crime in South Africa.
Meanwhile, up to 90% of these violent attacks against businesses have been committed with the help of an employee – whether directly or with information obtained through bribery or intimidation.
This demonstrates the extent of these syndicates’ network, which spans state organs all the way through to the private sector.
In late 2018, the South African Police Service dealt with as many as 33 organised crime-related cases in the Western Cape, nine in the Eastern Cape and 19 in Gauteng, the heart of the country’s economy.
While the number of arrests made by the authorities last year is commendable, it is clear that they are unable to tackle the problem alone.
Havensec Solutions, therefore, continues to work with both corporates and public-sector institutions to develop and implement a comprehensive security solution.
They understand that the decisions they make today will impact on their organisation’s sustainability over the long-term.
Our expertise includes personal body guarding, armed escorts, surveillance and information gathering, debugging of private and office spaces, covert cameras, undercover agents and polygraphs, as well as private and civil investigations to root out corruption.
This holistic security offering, founded upon tried-and-tested best practices, is a pro-active response to the interrelated nature of today’s businesses.