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South Africa: An Opportunistic Narcoscape for International Drug Trading

NCJ Number
Acta Criminologica Volume: 20 Issue: 1 Dated: 2007 Pages: 123-143
D. Singh; M. van Zyl
Date Published
21 pages
This paper examines the features of South Africa's environment (political, economic, geographic, social, and individual) that have facilitated its becoming a major supplier, user, and router for international drug trading.
The geographic location of South Africa places it between Asia, the Americas, and Europe, whose countries are heavily involved in supplying and/or using illegal drugs. In addition to its strategic geographic location, South Africa has porous borders, an impoverished citizenry, an under-resourced criminal justice system, and corruption patterns that undermine responsible and competent government. Local and international drug syndicates thrive in such an environment. The best that can be hoped is that people of good will, both inside and outside government and public service, can treat the symptoms of the problem. Given the nature of the international drug trade and the factors that fuel its activities in South Africa, it is clear that South African law enforcement is not capable of countering the problem independently. What is needed is a sharing of information and resources and cooperation among countries who share the problem and a commitment to mitigating it. In this regard, the South African International Cooperation in Criminal Matters Act, 1996, would be useful if properly implemented. It specifically facilitates international mutual legal assistance between countries by developing the framework for procedures to be followed when South Africa needs the assistance of a foreign law enforcement authority for the purpose of an investigation and vice versa. In another domain, the Drugs Act and Prevention of Organized Crime Act can facilitate the identification of major players in the drug trade for prosecution and the forfeiture of their crime proceeds. Making it extremely risky for them to operate in South Africa may induce them to take their business elsewhere. 27 notes