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Organised crime in Southern Africa: First annual review
15 December 2010

This report comprises the research findings of the first year of data collection (2008) for the EROC project. It is the first of  three such reports that will be published by the ISS in collaboration with SARPCCO. It looks at selected organised criminal activities and observed levels of prevalence in 12 southern African countries. Research questions, methodologies, limitations and ethical considerations are discussed in detail. Due to the lack of statistical and quantitative data, the report relies mostly on qualitative methodologies. Representatives of law enforcement agencies, government departments and para-statals, civil society, business and professional associations, academics, prisoners, former gang members and members of the broader communities whose lives have been affected by organised crime, were consulted in one-on-one interviews, focus groups, observations and workshops. A team of field researchers led by a research coordinator collected the data presented and analysed in this report. The research was informed by a working definition of organised crime which was jointly developed by the heads of criminal investigation departments in southern Africa and the research team.

The report shows that the more serious forms of crime in terms of the monetary value involved or the potential harm they cause have a transnational dimension, both in terms of being committed by people of varying nationalities and in terms of affecting more than one country. It has been established that organised crime in most countries is underpinned by corruption, which is either a facilitating activity or an organised criminal activity in its own right. The geo-political and economic environments of individual countries amplifies the significance of specific criminal activities, the commonest forms of which have been identified as stock theft, theft/hijacking of motor vehicles, cultivation of marijuana and a broad spectrum of economic crimes. Further, the research has shown that although economic crimes may not be as prevalent as other forms of crime, statistically their impact on the society and the economy are far reaching. Furthermore, the effectiveness of law enforcement against organised crime has been put in the spotlight. 

Compiled by: Annette Hubschle

This publications was made possible through the funding provided by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany. In addition, general Institute funding is provided by the gobernments of Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.