Financial crime tops Southern Africa wrongdoing list

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The largest criminal activity in Southern Africa is financial crime, accounting for 43% of all reported crime in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

This component of transnational organised crime (TOC), a recent Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) meeting heard, involves bank fraud, money laundering, fraud, credit card skimming and others.

The organisation met in Namibia’s Windhoek with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Chiefs of Police Sub-committee to discuss and review TOC in the regional bloc.

A SADC statement issued post the meeting noted “with grave concern” the loss of “billions of United States dollars annually”. This is due to “the illicit economy and underhand dealings orchestrated by TOC syndicates and their network of supporters”. More worrisome to police bosses of the regional bloc is “a growing nexus between terrorism and organised crime” with the proceeds of organised crime used to finance terrorist activities.

TOC in the Southern African region is seen as “a significant threat” to peace, security, governance, social and economic development held.

A draft threat assessment report, in addition to highlighting the significance of TOC, further points out apart from depleting and haemorrhaging the region’s natural resources, TOC exposes youth, women and other vulnerable groups to any number of crimes. These include trafficking, forced labour, terrorism and violent extremism, smuggling, rape, torture and other human rights abuses.

The police chiefs further noted concerns on other TOCs such as illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, terrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, cash in transit heists, motor vehicle theft, illegal artisanal mining, smuggling and in a reinforcement of the proliferation of financial crime – money laundering.