Cross-border crimes continue to be a menace that face countries in the SADC region that need to be dealt urgently.

Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini who is also the minister responsible for Police said criminal elements have become more professional and are fully exploiting the changes that have been brought by the explosion of the internet and digitalisation. Dlamini was speaking on Monday at the cabinet offices during a courtesy call by the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO) Chairperson Kakona Kanganja who is also the Inspector General of Zambia Police Service.

He said criminals were now a step ahead in the commission of crime as the syndicates have a cross-border network, giving rise to a wide range of crimes that pose a serious threat to the safety and security of the Region. The PM said besides endangering the general safety of the region, cross-border crimes are threatening the socio-economic development of the SADC countries. Some of the cross-border crimes that the PM highlighted that they were a cause for concern include drug trafficking and dealing, trafficking of fake goods and commodities, stock theft and the theft of copper wire which has proved to be huge challenge in the Kingdom of Eswatini. He said the proceeds of the criminal activities not only fund more crimes but impact negatively on government revenue in form of taxes.

The Prime Minister commended SARPCCO for its work ethic and urged the organisation to continue working with courage and diligence in ensuring that all forms of crimes are brought under control. He appealed to all Police Services/Forces under the SARPCCO organisation to continue working as a united front in terms of sharing intelligence in the fight of criminal activities. He further appealed for the harmonisation of operational practices, legislations and training among the SARPCCO countries, which will enable the Police to work with ease especially on the extradition of criminal fugitives and repatriation of exhibits which remains a challenge.

Dlamini said Eswatini is facing several challenges which are economical hence they were counting on the support from SADC and SARPCCO to achieve the vision of the country as the Kingdom cannot work in isolation to resuscitate its economy. He said resuscitating the economy was also dependant on attraction of foreign investment which was synonymous with controlled crime rates.

The PM also mentioned that REPS will continue supporting SARPCCO’s crime fighting initiatives as recently there were two regional joint operations which were aimed at combating fake goods and other forms of cross border crimes in the country and they yielded positive results. He also pledged Eswatini’s support to all initiatives that will be undertaken by SARPCCO. SARPCCO Chairperson Kanganja expressed his profound gratitude to His Excellency the Prime Minister for finding time to meet the SARPCCO chairman for demonstration of the unwavering support to the Regional Police Organization.

Acting National Commissioner of Police William Dlamini said the visit by SARPCCO Chairperson was important to REPS as it was to unveil the service overall performance in the implementation of the various decisions and resolutions taken regionally and internationally. He said the visit was also to reflect on REPS capabilities of participating in peace keeping missions and its contribution to the Regional standby force.

Also present during the courtesy call was Head of the INTERPOL Regional Bureau Mubita Nawa and other senior government officials.