Saturday, May 18, 2024

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BACSA’s Neal Froneman maps all-out war against organised crime

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Organised crime gangs such as Zama Zamas have been allowed to grow too powerful in South Africa and now require a strategic response by business and government to combat out-of-control criminal operations and their leaders.

In a recent interview with ProtectionWeb, Neal Froneman, chair of Business Against Crime South Africa (BACSA) and CEO of mining group Sibanye-Stillwater, stressed the need for a long overdue strategic response.

“We have to stem the losses and business disruption that result from these criminal activities. Organised crime has raised the cost of doing business and living in South Africa – now we must and will raise the cost of doing business for organised crime and their bosses,” said Froneman.

The Froneman way? Disrupt, dismay, dismantle, destroy and mobilise everyone to achieve it – fast.

“Organised crime has become entrenched as a parallel economy, and it would be a real mistake to underestimate how interlinked all these illegal activities are.  Dealing with criminal syndicates and making it more difficult for them to operate effectively by disrupting their activities is a real priority for BACSA,” said Froneman.

Described as a business actionist, Froneman chairs a new BACSA board of business heavyweights constituting the closest thing South Africa yet has to a functional multi-sectoral “War Cabinet” against crime.

Froneman has in recent months conducted a relentless campaign against official incapacity and incompetence, sparing neither BACSA’s primary partner, the SA government, nor the business sector itself. His efforts have resulted in building powerful consensus and working ties on the need for decisive action on crime across the business, governmental, civil society and security spectrum.

“It’s clear that business has to take charge of its own destiny in areas where public services are falling short. This is really important so that the private sector can be competitive and contribute its full potential to South Africa growing as a nation,” he said.

Does BACSA have the legitimacy and indeed capacity to play a leading role in dealing with both government and criminal justice and security institutions?

Froneman said over the many years of its existence, now approaching 30 years, BACSA has maintained a trusted and respected relationship with government, as well as the business community.

“This has enabled the organisation to play a pivotal role in matters, pertaining to law enforcement and criminal justice, and being the primary point of liaison between government and business.” 

Will you and BACSA develop dedicated strategies and capacities to fight Zama-Zamas, the illicit copper economy, gangs and construction mafias?

Froneman said the challenge relates to the inordinate time taken to address these matters, and the consequential infusion of these malpractices in the fabric of society, as well as ensuring that existing strategies and interventions are achieving their objectives and outcomes.

“Shared intelligence is a critical weapon in our armoury, and BACSA will coordinate across sector-based business associations with linkage into the state forensic intelligence services to isolate kingpins and build cases that can be prosecuted effectively.”

Will direct subjugation of Zama Zamas, gangs and criminal entities become necessary soon, but with blended psychosocial interventions?

Froneman said it is clear that the infusion of Zama Zamas and gangs into the fabric of local communities and beyond requires considerable thought and intelligence – with greater societal and other impacts being fully considered beyond a so-called ‘Iron Fist’ response.  “Visible policing is important to keep a lid on the scale of activity and make the costs of engaging in criminal activity higher.”

“The measures we are taking to block unauthorised entry into our operations and to stop the flow of supplies such as food and materials used by illegal miners are making it more costly to sustain illegal operations.  Although there is a plentiful supply of unemployed recruits with mining experience available to the syndicates to replace those who are arrested and it remains a lucrative activity.”

“We need intelligence-driven operations to move our efforts higher in the syndicate structures.  Stimulating a shift in social perceptions to appreciate the destructive nature of organised criminal activity is also important to enlist a whole of society’s response.”

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