Private-public partnership between business and government remains a keystone for effective border security. Unicode MD Emmanuel Diakakis says crossborder crime is costing the country untold billions of Rand. Diakakis has since 1989 been involved in the fight against vehicle-related crime,especially the illegal “export” of stolen vehicles.
Adding to figures provided by Business Against Crime CE Dr Graham Wright to defenceWeb’s second border conference, Diakakis noted some 5 000 000 vehicles entered and exited South Africa annually. In 2009, some 84 000 vehicles were stolen in South Africa – with a recovery rate of about 40%. “During 2010 we estimate 30 000 of these were illegally ‘exported’,” he added, the majority by international crime syndicates. These, he added, used the vehicles as payment for drugs, weapons and other goods and services.
Back home, these losses, some from theft and hijacking, and others through fraud, cost the banking and insurance industries untold billions. Just two – unnamed – banks are managing potential losses of some R1.44 billion related to some 12 000 vehicles that have “disappeared into thin air” along with their owners.
In addition, some 70 000 used vehicles are annually imported into South Africa to transit to its neighbours, but some 20 000 “fall off the back of the truck”, partly because no effective transit tracking system is in place. The impact of this includes numerous illegal vehicles on the country’s roads as well as a substantial loss of revenue to the state, manufacturers and supporting industries, which between them employs some 700 000 workers.
Diakakis notes key to changing this is increased private-public sector cooperation along with an increased political will to review some existing legislation, fight corruption and enforce discipline, particularly at ports of entry. Solutions must be “environment proof” and cost effective, Diakakis says, noting that equipment at many border points are unusually prone to breaking and staff have an infamous propensity to “accidentally” paint over camera lenses.
Business can also assist with the creation of an integrated and coordinated end-to-end process across all the operating departments, inclusive of the South African Revenue Service, the police, state security, home affairs, health and agriculture. In achieving this, a well managed, disciplined and independent Border Management Agency is essential, as is better and integrated intelligence.