12 Dec 2018

INTERPOL Overview of Serious and Organised Crime in the southern African Region 2018

International criminal organisations continue to target Southern Africa due to the significant illicit wealth that can be generated.


Transnational organised crime in the Southern African region is a growing issue. As a result, INTERPOL, under the European Union–funded ENACT Project, has sought to catalogue and assess organised crime in the region in order to drive a more strategic law enforcement response.

International criminal organisations continue to target the region due to the significant illicit wealth that can be generated, stemming from criminal market opportunities that exploit various social and political vulnerabilities, including state fragility, limited policing capacities, and corruption. International criminal organisations or networks operate everywhere in the region via key facilitators and bring together a significant array of crime syndicates and street gangs that provide illicit goods and services throughout the region. Crime syndicates remain highly connected across borders and are active in a number of illicit markets, notably financial crimes, organised theft and robberies, drug trafficking, wildlife crimes, human trafficking, and organised violence for profit. In addition, there are a number of enabling crimes such as cybercrime and the trade in small arms and light weapons that are supporting organised criminality throughout the region, which overlap in complex ways with all of the illicit markets noted. Organised crime in the region generates significant profits for all involved and there are substantial illicit interregional financial flows and illicit profits moving throughout the region and often heading offshore. Money laundering relating to all criminal market activities in the region is occurring on a global scale.

The threat from organised crime in Southern Africa is substantial yet there is limited capacity amongst law enforcement to manage this complex issue. Organised crime is going underreported and undetected, despite various data sources revealing major activities and dynamics of groups and networks are active in the region. This concern needs strategic action, through stronger partnerships amongst law enforcement agencies throughout the region, enabled through a greater awareness of the overall issue at a regional level.

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ENACT is implemented by the Institute for Security Studies in partnership with
INTERPOL and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime.