Country Listing

Angola Table of Contents


Incidence and Trends in Crime


Migration from rural areas to cities and the consequent creation of slums, such as those pictured above, contributed to a rise in urban crime.
Courtesy United Nations (J.P. Laffont)

It is difficult to generalize about the incidence of crime in Angola. Indeed, the government's characterization of UNITA and other insurgent groups as bandits, gangsters, criminals, puppet gangs, rebels, and counterrevolutionaries suggested a complex mixture of civil, criminal, and political criteria. However, it is likely that Angolan society exhibited criminal patterns similar to those of societies in other developing countries experiencing uncontrolled rural-to-urban migration, rapid social change, unemployment and underemployment, the spread of urban slums, and the lack or breakdown of urban and social services. It is also likely that such patterns were even more pronounced because of three decades of endemic conflict and massive dislocation. Historic and comparative patterns suggest that crimes against property increased with urban growth and that juveniles accounted for most of the increase.

Available evidence, although fragmentary, indicated that the crime rate was rising. Smuggling, particularly of diamonds and timber, was frequently reported as a major criminal offense, occasionally involving senior government and party officials. Dealing in illegal currency was another common crime. Persons acting as police or state security agents sometimes abused their writs by illegally entering homes and stealing property. Intermittent police crackdowns on black market activities had only short-term effects. Endemic production and distribution problems and shortages gave rise to embezzlement, pilfering, and other forms of criminal misappropriation. The enormous extent of this problem was indicated by an official estimate in 1988 that 40 percent of imported goods did not reach their intended consumers because of the highly organized parallel market system. The government later approved new measures to combat economic crime on a national scale.

Data as of February 1989