Crime syndicates and drug dealers are flourishing in southern Africa due to a lack of police resources and experience, a United Nations report has said.
Most criminals escape the police
"New patterns of organised crime, drug trafficking and terrorist financing have placed the issue of money laundering firmly on the agenda of a number of key Southern African Development Community (SADC) states," says the UN report on drugs and crime in southern Africa.
The report published on Tuesday, singles out Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa as the countries where organised crime has made the biggest inroads.
It says that the opening up of South Africa to international trade has made it the regional hub for heroin dealers and about 238 criminal syndicates.
The UN says the region needs a sustained programme of technical assistance for fighting money laundering and people trafficking.
The report says that other SADC countries are targeted partly because of their inexperience in dealing with professional criminals.
"The laundering of drug proceeds through the international banking system is rendered easier by the inadequate level of preparation and counter-measures on the part of states only recently exposed to the activities of criminal cartels," the report states.
The sex industry is another source of illegal revenue
The document says that Mozambique is the region's second largest drug-trafficking hub, after South Africa where foreign dealers either operate independently or with locals.
"Drug money is reported to be moving into property and construction in Mozambique and the case may well be similar in South Africa," the report says.
A report published last March by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said that local syndicates as well as global Chinese triad and Russian organized crime gangs are involved in southern African syndicates.
The IMO called on governments in the region to make human trafficking a criminal offence as well as provide awareness and training for officials as a way to bear down on the growing exploitative and lucrative sex industry.