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Indian, Pakistani mafia a threat in South Africa

IANS
Aug 12, 2008 at 03:13pm IST

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Johannesburg: Indian and Pakistani crime syndicates, although they came to South Africa much later than those from Nigeria, Russia, China, Morocco and Italy, are active in this country, according to a confidential report presented to parliament last week.

Afrikaans weekly Rapport obtained a copy of the report presented by the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA).

The report was distributed to Members of Parliament but not to members of the public and media who attended public hearings because of "the sensitive nature of the information", according to a source approached by the weekly.

These crime syndicates are as active as those from Russia, China and Italy.

Titled 'The threat of organised crime in South Africa', the report said there are indications that organised crime was increasingly posing a threat to South Africa's security and stability.

The document also claimed that various "Muslim terrorist groups", including Hamas of Palestine, the Lebanese Hezbollah and al-Qaeda have established a base in South Africa since 1997.

The report alleged that these groups used South Africa as a safe haven for militants on the run, to seek financial support and to recruit members.

The report also claimed that crime syndicates have become more prominent in their activities in the past five years by "penetrating" middle and senior government levels.

The authors of the document warned that organised crime was threatening South Africa's integrity and would undermine the government and judicial system if it was not countered very seriously.

South Africa's economic vulnerability would make it difficult to resist the organised crime efforts and corruption, which could rob the country of income equivalent to between 0.5 per cent and four per cent of the GDP.

"The syndicates establish companies to commit their money laundering activities and to legitimise their illegal income. They have incredible resources to cover up their activities," the report said.

The report was made as a submission on hearings that are currently under way on the controversial disbanding of the elite Scorpions unit, a special organised crime fighting unit started several years ago to act independently of the South African Police Services (SAPS).

The government proposal now on the table is for a similar unit to be established within the ranks of SAPS, but this is being challenged by various parties, many of whom are asking for the Scorpions to continue.

The report was also in defence of an organisation such as the Scorpions, saying that organised crime could not be fought through general law enforcement, but only by an independent directorate with enough resources and highly experienced members schooled in the latest technologies used by organised crime.

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