Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) countries have gathered in Lilongwe to brain-storm on how best to combat environmental crime which is wrecking economies in the region.
Ten countries are attending a workshop under the theme Environmental Crimes Investigations organised by the Southern African Regional Police Chief Organisation (Sarpco), to share notes and reinforce a collective approach to organised crime.
Illegal trade in wildlife and forest products, especially of endangered species, is the main environmental crime under focus during the workshop.
“Environmental crimes cause significant damage to the environment in Europe and the world. At the same time they provide high profits for perpetrators and relatively low risk of detection. Very often, environmental crimes have a cross-border angle which is why we have gathered to find a collective approach to curb this disease,” said Deputy Inspector General of Police, Rodney Jose, who officially opened the workshop.
Jose said such crimes not only affect endangered species, but also pose a security and safety threat to a large number of people within Sadc countries.
Said Jose: “These crimes are cross-border in nature and rob Sadc countries of the benefits that come with tourism. It is for this reason this workshop is very crucial in the fight and prevention of environmental crimes.”
Representative of Interpol in sub-Sahara bureau (Harare, Zimbabwe) Rodophy Mbumba said environmental crimes are so sophisticated and well organised that there is need for a united front in combating them.
Said Mbumba: “We need to share notes and intelligence on crimes, as a region. The workshop has gathered various agencies from different countries. I believe at the end of the workshop, we will have found direction or formulated a plan on how to arrest environmental crimes.”