Holding the line: Criminal infiltration

Infiltration of local government by criminal organisations is not restricted to South Africa.

Although Canada ranks low for public sector corruption, The Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC) found that in 2022, 29 organized crime groups have “influence and access” within the public sector, while at least 369 groups are believed to be trying to gain ground in government.

Closer to home, we have seen the emergence of the construction mafia in Cape Town highlighted by the killing of a city official. As far back as 2019, at least 183 infrastructure and construction projects worth over R 63 billion had been affected by criminal disruptions across the country. Whether this risk is being dealt with adequately or not is another question but failure to do so opens new opportunities for syndicates.

The impact of unchecked systemic activity by syndicates can have the effect of increasing prices which hampers service delivery and can have the knock-on effect of disenchanted residents and with this, the potential for unrest.

A further impact of criminal infiltration is the debilitating psychological effect that it can have on officials, ranging from obvious portfolios such as Council members, Municipal Managers and Chief Financial Officers, and stretching into ‘target’ areas such as supply chain management and audit.

“Weskus Distrik is renowned for clean governance and service delivery, and we intend maintaining that proud record. However, we are very aware that as large municipalities close gaps for criminal activity, syndicates may switch their attention to smaller municipalities.”

“Combatting infiltration and systemic extortion will require a collective of good and courageous people collaborating and involves strengthening relationships with private sector organisations; the local community; civil society organisations; associate local government institutions and agencies, and committed support from state bodies”.


David Joubert
Municipal Manager
Weskus Distrik.


West Coast District Municipality

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