'Illicit economy' poses bigger threat than thought

The so-called “illicit economy” is much more of a threat to South Africa’s regular economy than previously thought, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Thursday.

There was the question of illegal imports which were damaging industries and jobs, he told a media briefing at Parliament.

However Davies said there were also a number of other attempts at illegal activity which were important.

He said one could cite company hijackings, which was a form of identity theft.

Davies said there was also intellectual property piracy, which was particularly damaging to the South African music industry and film production industry.

“There are all sorts of other kinds of activities that are going on and I think our understanding is that quite a lot of this is being conducted by increasingly sophisticated internationally-linked criminal syndicates,” Davies said.

Regarding intellectual property piracy, one perhaps thought that this was “some little street trader,” he said.

“Well that is the one who sells the stuff; who produces it is a criminal syndicate probably also involved in abalone smuggling, drug dealing and things of that sort.”

Illegal immigrants
The Cabinet had decided there would be an intensive interaction between the economic cluster of ministers and the criminal justice cluster regarding the illicit economy.

“I think we have a better understanding of the nature of the problem.

“It’s linked, I think, very much to the [draft] Immigration [amendment] Bill, because a lot of the people involved in this are probably also illegal immigrants coming into South Africa, involved in illegal acquisitions of property used for various nefarious purposes and so on.

“And I think what you can anticipate is that we will be working intensively on this issue, but also I think smarter and more effectively as we move further forward,” Davies said.

On the example of the illegal imports, there had been a lot of inputs from the industry.

“We’re working on this matter and I think that we’re looking at ways in which we will become much more effective in combating the totality of this menace.

“Because what it does is it costs us jobs, and in fact if we’re more effective we will save a considerable number of jobs in the South African economy.” - Sapa

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