The illegal abalone trade in the Western Cape

The illegal abalone trade in Hout Bay is explored as an important case study of a criminal network in Cape Town and the way it impacts on governance.

This case study provides the context in which the abalone trade in South Africa occurs, describes the various stages of the trade and analyses the impact of the illegal trade on governance. The community of Hout Bay was chosen as it appears to typify the trade across the Western Cape. The report concludes that criminal governance in the abalone trade takes various forms. These include the marginalised turning to the informal economy; both abalone wholesalers and gangsters developing a level of power over a region that renders them parallel sources of authority; the corruption and co-opting of state officials; and, arguably, the state’s reliance on the seizure of poached abalone.

About the author

Khalil Goga is a researcher at the ISS Transnational Threats and International Crime Division. He has been researching organised crime in Africa since 2009 and has been affiliated with the ISS since 2012. He previously lectured at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and received both his undergraduate and master’s degrees from this university.



Development partners
This paper was made possible with support from the International Development Research Centre. The ISS is grateful for support from the following members of the ISS Partnership Forum: the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the USA.
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