South Africa remains top hotspot for cargo crime

Economic decline, along with a restrictive lockdown, left the freight sector in a vulnerable situation.

A new report by TT Club and BSI highlights South Africa’s ongoing vulnerability to cargo theft and the following trends: hijacking of vehicles in transit is the primary theft type; theft from facilities is on the rise; Johannesburg and surrounding province remain chief region at risk; an uptick in incidents of cargo theft in Eastern and Western Cape; food and beverages and medical supplies have seen an elevated number of thefts.

South Africa ranks among the top countries in the world, and first on the African continent, for BSI’s forecasted losses due to cargo theft, underscoring the significant economic impact of this issue in the nation. Historically, there is an inverse relationship between crime and economic growth in South Africa. However, this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of lockdowns and a decline in the economy, an additional layer was added to that relationship.

The economic decline, along with the changes brought about by a restrictive lockdown in response to COVID-19 earlier this year, left the freight sector in a vulnerable situation. South Africa is an environment traditionally characterized by cargo truck hijackings. Further, cross-border truck congestion and slower freight clearance created secondary disruptions that leave cargo even more susceptible to theft and general violence.    

In total, three key trends resulted from BSI and TT’s research in 2019 and 2020: thefts from facilities increased during the first half of 2020; an uptick in incidents of cargo theft occurred in Eastern Cape and Western Cape between the first two quarters of 2020; and thefts of food and beverage and medical supplies increased in Q2 2020. 

The report’s authors emphasize that the understanding of cargo theft risk plays a big part in mitigating both the occurrence and impact of these incidents on stakeholders’ organizations and is crucial in building a truly resilient supply chain.

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