Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman and Remgro CEO Jannie Durand have joined forces to fight crime and corruption as part of an initiative to fix the country.
The business-led initiative, supported by 115 of South Africa’s top CEOs, assists the government in getting the economy back on track and fixing the country’s energy, logistics, and security problems.
The initiative comes as South Africa faces crippling power cuts, a deteriorating freight rail capacity, and a growing threat from criminal groups that have laid siege to public infrastructure.
It also comes as government and business present a united front to save the country’s relationship with the US and remain a part of preferential trade arrangements.
Business is already working with the government on three key work streams – energy, logistics, and crime and corruption.
Froneman told Biznews founder Alec Hogg that he warned South Africa was a failed state two years ago, long before it was widely acknowledged.
Despite his criticism of the state, he believes there is currently an opportunity to make a difference as the government is more open to tackling the challenges.
“The government may still see business as a necessary evil, but we can’t just sit by and watch everything collapse,” Froneman said.
He added that crime and corruption are significant issues that need to be addressed, regardless of who is in power.
The Sibanye-Stillwater CEO said leadership changes are essential for South Africa, which he believes will occur after the next election.
“While business shouldn’t be directly involved in politics, today’s situation is as serious as it was during apartheid, and business needs to be more engaged in political matters,” he said.
“By focusing on crime and corruption, I hope to make a positive impact and be on the right side of history.”
Froneman and Durand tackling crime
Froneman said they met with Police Commissioner Bheki Cele and others from the police service and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
“We’ve made significant progress with the judicial workstream, which the minister supports, and there’s good cooperation with the NPA,” he said.
He said the NPA is a solid organisation, but they lack capacity. “We’re looking into areas like science, technology, and forensic data analysis to enhance their effectiveness,” he said.
Froneman said they are focusing on syndicated crime as part of the crime prevention stream.
“Rather than just addressing the lower-level criminals, we aim to target the kingpins orchestrating illegal activities like car theft, illegal mining, illicit financial flows, and counterfeit goods.”
He said arresting low-level criminals has proven ineffective in curbing these activities.
“We’ve developed a strategy that combines the judicial system, policing, and various business levers,” he said.
“By coordinating data from the banking, mining, and consumer sectors, we can gain meaningful insights and disrupt these syndicates.”
While they may not be able to imprison the kingpins immediately, they can take the necessary steps to achieve that in due course through legal processes.
He added that despite the negativity around South Africa’s criminal justice system, there are many dedicated and committed individuals at the police and NPA.
“While there are some who aren’t committed to making a difference, we believe that, through proper processes, we can identify them and address these issues,” he said.
Froneman said he has had meetings with several SAPS generals and can sense their willingness to effect change.
“There are some basic administrative aspects that seem to be lacking, which we can help improve,” he said.
“The private sector and organisations like the NPA and security clusters don’t typically work together, but we’re trying to establish trust and credibility with each other.”
“Given enough time and communication, we can realise that many of us share the same goals.”