In this 21st issue of the Risk Bulletin of Illicit Economies in Eastern and Southern Africa, we highlight four new trends in organized crime: From the political volatility along the ‘southern route’ of drug trafficking following political and military development in both Afghanistan and Northern Mozambique, to the stories of young Kenyan men exploited and coerced into sex work in Europe, and the targeting of three politically exposed women in South Africa (of which only one survived an assassination attempt). Lastly, we present the results of our fieldwork activities in early 2021 in Mozambique, in relation to informal mining and police corruption.

1. From Afghanistan to Cabo Delgado – political volatility along the ‘southern route’ of drug trafficking.

How will the political developments in both Afghanistan and Mozambique influence drug trafficking routes throughout the region?

2. How young men in Kenya’s coastal region fall victim to sex trafficking.

Young men in informal work on the Kenyan coast – known as ‘beach boys’– are at risk of being trafficked for sex. After forming relationships with women who have traveled to Kenya for tourism these young men travel abroad, enticed by a good lifestyle or education provided by these ‘sponsors’. Once out of the country, these young men find themselves in a precarious position, exploited and coerced into sex work.

3. The targeting of three women in South Africa shows how violence is shaping politics in the run-up to local elections.

Between July and August, three women in South Africa were the targets of assassination attempts. Babita Deokaran and Nokuthula Bolitye were both killed, while Ntobe Shezi survived. All had political roles: Deokaran was a crucial witness in a corruption investigation at the Gauteng Department of Health; Shezi was standing for election as a ward councillor in KwaZulu-Natal; and Bolitye was a ward councillor in Cape Town. 

4. How informal miners in Mozambique bear the brunt of criminalization while elites seize more control of mining concessions.

During GI-TOC fieldwork in early 2021 in Montepuez and M’Sawize, miners and gem traders described how corrupt police – nominally charged with securing the mine concessions – and other powerful local groups act as gatekeepers to the mines and can abuse and extort miners.


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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