Criminals are running circles around South Africa’s police

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SOUTH AFRICA’S crime lords can be audacious. This month they waited until the country’s top security officials were busy preparing for a briefing on rampant crime at Johannesburg’s international airport, then struck again, hijacking a truck loaded with valuable cargo as it left the gates. The incident was the latest of many. In a particularly brazen heist in March, gunmen impersonating police officers stole 20.7m rand ($1.5m) as the bags of money were being loaded onto a flight to London. A few weeks later, thieves attacked a cash-laden van on a busy highway near the airport, blowing it open with explosives. This dramatic episode was caught on video.

After years of steady decline, serious crime is on the rise in South Africa. Aggravated robbery has jumped by 31% since 2012; murder is up by 20%. The crime appears organised, not opportunistic. Fikile Mbalula, the police minister, admits that many of the airport crimes are...

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