n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Organised crime at sea : lessons learned from the hijacking

Volume 25, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The world's attention on piracy is focussed on the root causes, modus operandi, extent and prevention of this phenomenon. The complexity of the relationship between piracy and organised crime, however, is largely overlooked. Maritime piracy has undergone an evolutionary process, from its historical roots to the profitable organised businesses it is today. In this article it is argued that modern day pirates are sophisticated, well-resourced transnational criminal syndicates that have tapped into the huge economical potential of organised crime at sea. Due to the involvement of insurance companies, the negotiation process has become little more than a business transaction between the owners of the hijacked vessel and the pirates. In the case of uninsured smaller vessels, governmental policy not to negotiate with pirates has resulted in victims of piracy being alienated and isolated. The ransom money trail is frequently unnoticed because of limited resources, which impede the process by which the money trail is followed once such payments have been made to the pirates. Emphasis is placed on the relationship between piracy, organised crime and the criminal economy it feeds. This article focuses on kidnapping for ransom by pirates and uses the case study of the South African couple taken hostage during October 2010 to illustrate the negotiations process, connection between piracy and organised crime and the money trail.

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