Abramjee calls on a nation in fear to rise up…

Veteran crime fighter Yusuf Abramjee of Tax Justice South Africa is calling on South Africans to rise up to put pressure on the Government to put tangible actions in place to fight rampant crime. He speaks to BizNews in the wake of a World Bank study that found an estimated R700 billion is lost to the economy every year as a result of crime. “We must break our silence. We must stand up – even if it means taking to the streets, within the framework of the law, we have to do it. For how long are we gonna sit back and live behind high walls, behind fences, with beams, some people with bodyguards?” Abramjee says arresting the kingpins would be critical to the fight against crime. “…some of them are sitting in Dubai, probably sitting on the beach there and having their smoke and continuing to enjoy the cash from the ill-gotten gains…enough is enough for these people who are involved in the illicit trade, who are camouflaging themselves as legitimate dealers and manufacturers. Their time must come to an end. Not next year, not next week. I would say right now.” – Chris Steyn

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:00 – Introductions
  • 00:18 – Latest figures
  • 01:12 – Conservative or overstated figure
  • 03:33 – Chances of an all out war
  • 05:12 – Members of the public locked out of public hearing
  • 06:32 – Kingpins not being arrested
  • 08:24 – Conclusions 

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Highlights from the interview

Veteran crime fighter Yusuf Abramjee of Tax Justice South Africa is calling on South Africans to rise up to put pressure on the Government to put tangible actions in place to fight rampant crime.

Abramjee speaks to BizNews in the wake of a World Bank study into the economic impact of crime in South Africa. 

According to the findings, an estimated R700 billion is lost to the economy every year as a result of crime.

“…the lawlessness that we are seeing is on a grand scale. These criminals are continuing to run amok…I don’t have to preach to you to tell you how South Africans are living, the fear that we are living in…”

He calls on all South Africans to become “active” citizens.

“We know there seems to be very little political will to make South Africa safe. And we know that these criminals are becoming filthy rich.…it’s up to us as citizens to make a difference. 

“Every one of us has a role to play. We must break our silence. We must stand up – even if it means taking to the streets, within the framework of the law, we have to do it. For how long are we gonna sit back and live behind high walls, behind fences, with beams, some people with bodyguards?”

Abramjee points out that it’s not for individuals like himself and a few others only to make a noise. “Ordinary citizens must now rise up and make a noise…And the more we speak up, the more we take a stand, the more we raise our voices, hopefully government will be able to listen.”

Meanwhile, says Abramjee, arresting the kingpins will be critical to the fight against crime.

“The government, SARS, SAPS, the Reserve Bank, the police, the FBI, I would imagine, also know who these kingpins are. Why they are not arrested, I can’t understand. 

“Some of these factories involved in the illicit trade have been operating for some time now, for many years, right on our doorstep in South Africa. Why are they not being closed?

“We know government and the law processes work very, very slowly. Does it take 10 years to go and investigate who’s involved in the illicit trade? It raises a lot of questions….Corruption plays a role, inefficiency plays a role, uselessness plays a role, or alternatively, government or those involved are simply turning a blind eye.

“We know that the smuggling of cigarettes, for example, from Zimbabwe to South Africa has been carrying on and on and on. There have been a lot of breakthroughs, but these are the runners, the people driving the trucks, the people exporting the trucks here and there, and yet the King Pins get away with it. No wonder they are smiling all the way to the bankers. We know that the Gold Mafia investigation by Al Jazeera earlier this year, the four-part series, exposed these individuals. We know who’s involved in money laundering. Yet…some of them are sitting in Dubai, probably sitting on the beach there and having their smoke and continuing to enjoy the cash from the ill-gotten gains. And really, I would say enough is enough for these people who are involved in the illicit trade, who are camouflaging themselves as legitimate dealers and manufacturers. Their time must come to an end. Not next year, not next week. I would say right now.”

Abramjee says it really is time government got its house in order. “…the time has now come for the government right from the top down to say that we are gonna put tangible actions in place to fight crime.”

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