/ 27 September 2023

SA ranked seventh in Global Organised Crime Index

Graphic Tl Zibi Corruption Twitter 1200px
The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) has, over the past year, imposed R100 million in penalties against firms and individuals found guilty of misconduct, and referred dozens of cases to the police. (Graphic: John McCann/M&G)

Organised crime activity has increased in South Africa over the past two years, with the country now ranked seventh in the world in the latest Global Organised Crime Index.

According to the index, released on Tuesday, South Africa came in seventh out of 193 countries surveyed in terms of organised crime, scoring 7.18 out of a possible 10, a 0.58 increase on the 2021 outcome.

The country ranked first among 13 Southern African states, and third on the continent, in terms of criminality, with its resilience — its ability to deal with organised crime — also decreasing slightly over the same period.

The index is published every two years by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, a Geneva-based civil society initiative aimed at raising awareness of — and combating — organised crime across continents.

It was introduced in 2021 to assess levels of organised crime and countries’ ability to address the criminal threats they faced. The report offers data on criminality and resilience patterns from all 193 United Nations member states.

The report found that South Africa’s overall trend over recent years was one of “worsening instability” and economic crisis, which had “shaken the foundations” of the country’s system of governance.

The country’s image, and that of President Cyril Ramaphosa, had been dented by scandals such as Phala Phala.

“Scandals that have recently come to light have resulted in decreasing the credibility and reputation of President Cyril Ramaphosa,” the report said.

“South Africa has a high level of corruption in its public sector, with maladministration, procurement corruption and abuse of authority being the most common forms.”

While South Africa had comprehensive anti-corruption laws and agencies, “enforcement has historically been inadequate, with many current and former government officials avoiding prosecution.”

A lack of transparency and competitive bidding for government contracts worsened the situation and raised questions in some circles about the government’s level of commitment and coordination in tackling corruption.

“The ruling party has used its majority in parliament to block crucial legislative oversight investigations, protecting its representatives from corruption inquiries,” it said.

While South Africa had ratified all relevant international instruments and standards for combating organised crime and had extradition treaties in place with several countries, implementation of these and domestic anti-crime measures was “hindered by a lack of political will and state capacities.”

While anti-corruption, money laundering and anti-cybercrime laws had been introduced, “their effective implementation has been hindered by the weakening of state institutions forming part of the criminal justice system.”

As a result, commercial crime had become South Africa’s most prevalent form of organised crime, outstripping human trafficking and narcotics.

The report said South Africa’s police service had faced issues around corruption, internal tensions between senior management, brutality and a lack of capacity to deal with high-level organised crime figures and bring them to trial successfully.

Law enforcement officials were themselves implicated in organised crime on a number of levels, in particular in trafficking activities.

According to the index, South Africans are not alone in living under conditions of increasing criminality, with 83% of the world’s population now living under conditions of high criminality, up from 79% in 2021.