As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, with only a small middle class as a buffer between the two, it is no surprise that serious crimes - including murders, car-jackings and robberies - increased for the first time last year since apartheid came to an end in 1994; according to police statistics, the number of serious offences climbed 2.4% to 19 202. Business people consider these statistics to be the greatest disincentive to invest in post-apartheid South Africa.
Domestic markets first
In line with the country’s thriving economy, South Africa’s metals recycling business is performing very well. There are an estimated 800 scrap-related companies, of which 87 are members of the South African Metals Association. Seven of the largest metal recyclers can be found in Gauteng, the province of which Johannesburg is the capital and where some 70% of the country’s industrial activity is focused; three major metal recyclers can be found around Durban while
another one - SA Metal - is headquartered in Cape Province. Statistics suggest that around 70 000 to 80000 tonnes of ferrous scrap is available each month.
Most of the metals recyclers I visited during my stay in South Africa subscribed to a policy of serving their domestic customers first while exporting their surplus, mainly to Asia and Europe.