According to a recent report, South Africa’s organized crime has grown to the level of Italy’s, one of the oldest centers for mafia techniques in the world. The report stated that up to 52% of homicides in the country are related to organized crime and intergroup violence.
South Africa has raced past Mexico, Somalia, and Libya as it moves up the crime quadrant. It is in the spheres of Guatemala, Brazil, and Russia. From around 2011, the organized crime graph went terrifyingly northward, which, of course, corresponds with the capture of the criminal justice system and its destabilization.
The country’s assessment reveals that despite President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to reform that system, the murder rate has increased by 38% over the past ten years.
South Africa is currently ranked 19th in the world when it comes to organized crime. The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime’s (GITOC) director, Mark Shaw, claims that organized crime is now an existential crisis in South Africa. However, he said that the country is capable of overcoming it.
The rise of elite corruption and the weakening of governmental institutions are related to the expansion of organized crime in South Africa. Corruption and organized crime are now embedded within official institutions, most notably law enforcement. Small-scale bribes enable criminals to operate freely and buy protection, whereas high-level corruption frequently results in governmental authorities actively participating in criminal activity or owning stakes in illegal marketplaces.
Organized crime currently has a significant impact on many aspects of people’s lives. Attacks on vital services hurt the state’s capacity to run its affairs. This can be seen in how both the transportation and energy networks have collapsed. For instance, several commentators have linked attacks on crucial infrastructure and organized crime in the nation to Eskom’s worsening power outages. Cable theft and a number of mafia-style organized operations at Eskom are now the norm.
Many people have seen the most recent report as a call to action. A more planned approach to organized crime is urgently required if South Africa wants to avoid becoming more unstable in the future. It is imperative that decision-makers from a wide range of backgrounds acknowledge the serious threat posed by organized crime and take prompt action.
If organized crime and the associated black markets are not stopped, substantial harm will continue to be done. Reforms to the criminal justice system must begin much sooner. Gun control, dealing with mafia-like organizations, and combating cybercrime, which has disrupted systems at banks and Transnet, for example, will be ideal places to start.
Alternative forms of engagement can help to expand a response and retrench embedded networks because South Africa’s deep and rich civil society is so ingrained in the communities it works in.
South Africa has a pool of knowledge in the business sector that can support the government’s reaction. While businesses may have the interest and capacity to help the state in other ways, the private sector has offered to provide personnel time and experience to SAPS in the area of economic and financial crime.
The situation is not hopeless in South Africa. There are a lot of measures that can be implemented to prevent organized crime from rising high, but political will is necessary. Long-term preventative measures and a strategic, methodical approach are required. For economic growth, you need security. The first thing you must do is provide security, then invest.