Criminals holding South Africa to ransom

Dr Jakkie Cilliers from Institute for Security Studies has warned that organised criminals are holding the state to ransom.

Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, he said a small grouping of criminals conducts organised crime in South Africa.

“If our security agencies can get on top of that, they can deal with the high murder rate and other rampant crimes,” he said.

Cilliers said the recent spate of truck burnings is a good example of a campaign executed by organised crime.

“It is aimed to shift work from one contractor to another or move transport from one method to another,” he said.

Cilliers said one of the problems is that the government deals with the symptoms instead of underlying causes.

“From a policing perspective, it requires intelligence through good detective work on the ground. That will resolve the truck burnings,” he said.

He said visible policing, which is what the government is doing, only serves as a minor deterrent to criminals. “We have to target the organised criminals that are behind this.”

To effectively fight crime in South Africa requires an approach which invests in detective services, fixing forensics, improving firearms registration, and fixing the police’s management.

The state must also ensure that criminals who are apprehended are brought to book and placed behind bars.

“At this stage, only around 15% of murders in South Africa led to successful prosecution. It points to the problems in the criminal justice pipeline,” he said.

Truck burning across South Africa

Road Freight Association CEO Gavin Kelly
Road Freight Association CEO Gavin Kelly

Cilliers’ comments followed a spate of truck attacks across South Africa, which started with the burning of six trucks on the N3 on Sunday.

Since then, it has spread to other parts of the country, including the N2 between Piet Retief and Ermelo, the N4 in Mpumalanga, and the N12 west.

The Road Freight Association said it threatens trade and employment because 80% of all goods moved in and around South Africa are ferried by road.

Road Freight Association CEO Gavin Kelly said the truck burning incidents may result in some companies closing permanently due to an inability to transport freight securely. 

“These incidents bring the fear of operating on the N3 back into the front of people’s minds. People will ask, should I apply my business here if it is not safe?”

The ongoing attacks have led some companies to move their cargo through ports in neighbouring countries instead of those in South Africa.

“If we can’t provide secure supply chains and provide secure roads for goods to migrate in and out of our country, we slowly kill our country,” said KDG Logistics’s Abdool Kamdar.

“What we are seeing here is symptoms of cancer that will eventually kill our economy, and we can’t let this continue.”

Efficient Group chief economist Dawie Roodt said it exemplifies the inefficiency of the government and its failures to perform basic functions such as protecting citizens and maintaining infrastructure.

Roodt said the truck-burning incidents indicate that South Africa is not a safe place to do business and will scare off investors.

“The South African economy will suffer, especially the poor who have to deal with higher prices for basic goods,” he said.


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