In this issue of the Risk Bulletin, we present stories from South Africa and Kenya, which investigate how political shifts are shaping, and being shaped by, criminal networks.

  • In our lead story this month, we provide a deep dive on Durban’s heroin market. South African headlines were filled in recent weeks with shocking images from Durban, where alleged drug kingpin ‘Teddy Mafia’ was assassinated and his killers themselves killed in a brutal reprisal. Going beyond the headlines, we present our analysis of the volatility and violence in Durban’s drug market, and what sets the city apart in the overall landscape of heroin trafficking across South Africa and the wider region.
  • We then turn to illegal markets in Kenya that have a direct impact on the environment. Waste disposal may not be something widely associated with organized crime, yet criminality in the sector has actually been reported around the world. The business of waste in Nairobi has become big business for criminal groups with connections to the city’s government. Our analysis highlights how provision of services in cities can be subverted by criminal groups and corrupt officials.
  • We also look at ongoing criminality in Kenya’s charcoal industry, which is a major contributor to deforestation in the region. The charcoal market in Kenya is a classic example of a ‘grey market’, whereby legal and illicitly produced goods are both available to consumers, who may therefore be unaware of a product’s illegality. The charcoal market presents a dilemma to policymakers in Kenya, given that demand for charcoal, despite its problems as a polluting fuel, remains high, as well as the fact that the market is a major source of income in rural areas.
  • Lastly, we report on ongoing corruption and mismanagement at South Africa’s Central Firearms Registry, where corrupt officers working in the firearms registry have been able to facilitate firearms licenses being issued to gangsters. This story illustrates how poor implementation of legislation – in this case South Africa’s Firearms Control Act – can undermine the legislation’s original intentions.

The stories in the Risk Bulletin are drawn from GI-TOC’s network of analysts and researchers, who form the basis of our Civil Society Observatory of Illicit Economies in Eastern and Southern Africawhich has hubs in Nairobi and Cape Town.

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