This is South Africa, home to cutthroat gangs and a lair to some of the world’s most notorious drug lords who seem to view the country as a buffer from prosecution. It’s easy to see why – politics has pummelled policing, first in the form of apartheid and then under Jacob Zuma’s presidency when state corruption exploded, and intelligence structures imploded.
Tons of illicit drugs are pumped across the borders annually. This bleeds into other crimes including terrorism, arms dealing, kidnapping and extortion. Add hardened homespawned gangs to this toxic mix, and the combination is lethal.
An array of local and foreign names surface when prodding this volatile matrix. Among them is one of India’s ‘most wanted,’ Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, accused of partnering with the Taliban, and self-confessed drug trafficking mastermind Vaygiri ‘Vicky’ Goswami who claims to have helped finance the ANC. Then there is Brazilian tracking accused Gilberto Aparecido dos Santos, and Cuban kingpin Nelson Pablo Yester-Garrido, who purportedly had a soft spot for Nelson Mandela.
All four operated in South Africa. None were properly prosecuted in the country. This reinforces suspicions that politicians, government ocials, and cops are protecting – and working with – powerful drug peddling thugs.
From off the Irish coast, to a jail in Dubai, US courtrooms, ports in Australia and Brazil, and cities in Serbia, this is the story of how some of the most ruthless criminals slither around South Africa, living among us while commanding gangs responsible for bloody warfare across the globe.
Award-winning investigative journalist Caryn Dolley has spent years tracing the footprints of kingpins from across the world. Through examining police investigations, delving into court documents, interviews with countless sources, and painstakingly tracking arrests, she pieces together a horrific puzzle showing how different criminal empires have overlapped, merged and clashed in South Africa. She has worked for numerous print and online newsrooms including News24, the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, and Daily Maverick.
She has published two books to great public and critical acclaim; The Enforcers: Inside Cape Town’s deadly nightclub battles in 2019 and To The Wolves: How traitor cops crafted South Africa’s underworld in 2021.