'Specialised crime units will reinforce fight against organised syndicates'

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko proposed the revival of specialised task forces such as the gang and drug units.

FILE: A member of Cape Town's Special Investigation Unit keeps guard while a stop and search is performed in Manenberg. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - An independent researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on Tuesday said reinstating specialised crime units would strengthen the fight against organised syndicates.

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko has proposed the revival of specialised task forces such as the gang and drug units, in a bid to combat the surge in sophisticated criminal trends across the country.

But the ISS' Johan Burger said before resurrecting specialised crime units, disbanded more than a decade ago, thorough training needed to be conducted.

"Once these units are established there needs to be intensive training that will only develop over time. They will have develop new informer networks and work procedures. So yes it can happen but it's going to take some time."

In December, a study by ISS showed that many Western Cape gangs had links to international criminal syndicates.

The report revealed some of the province's most brutal gangs were working closely with criminals in countries including Nigeria and China.

ISS researcher Khalil Goga said some West African gangs had links with their South African counterparts.

"West Africa has become one of the hot spots for drug trafficking, organised crime and the like. One of the reasons is because of the weak governance in those areas. Criminals basically have carte blanche to do what they want to."