Cargo thieves target hair extensions and wigs
Imports of wigs and hair extensions are increasingly prone to cargo theft and diversion once they reach South Africa, with these items now among the most insured goods at risk of theft .
Some of the goods are also arriving in Namibia, but the theft has derailed the normal flow of trade.
Namibia imports millions of dollars worth of hair from all over the world. At the end of 2019, data from World Integrated Trade Solutions shows imports from the global market amounted to US$97,700 (N$1.6 million).
About 4.8 million Namibian dollars passed through South Africa.
South Africa’s illicit trade market is primarily responsible for the increase in thefts of wigs and hair extensions, said Marika van Rhyn, business development manager at Hollard Marine.
Globally, the hair extensions market is valued at approximately N$41 billion and is expected to reach N$59 billion by 2028, growing at a rate of 5.3% per annum, according to the research firm of Fortune Business Insights market.
He said the growing sense of fashion and aspiration for luxury among South African consumers, as well as consumers in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, are mainly fueling the hair extension markets in the Middle East and some African regions.
Over the past four years, imports of hair extensions into South Africa have jumped 64%.
“There has been such a surge in demand for hair extensions in South Africa that extension theft is becoming more and more common. Once stolen it is easily smuggled and moves very quickly,” she said.
Hollard himself has seen a 37% year-over-year increase in hair extension requests.
Thefts typically occur at ports, when goods are unloaded after arrival, or in transit to their final destinations during hijacking incidents.
“We have some hotspots in South Africa, distribution centers in the Johannesburg area in particular. So those are the most common incidents,” she said.
She said cargo traveling on the Johannesburg route mainly passes through the Port of Durban and signals that South Africa’s illicit hair trade market is largely concentrated in Johannesburg.
Hair extension theft has overtaken coal theft, which was once considered “black gold”.
As the world slowly shifts to green and renewable energy, the hottest new product has become hair extensions, primarily those imported from India and Brazil, Hollard said.
Van Ryhn said solar panels, which are also increasingly susceptible to theft and misuse, have seen significant import growth as South Africans seek alternative power solutions to the unstable power supply in South Africa. ‘Eskom.
“It is a commodity that is increasingly imported; the frequency goes up. And these are both companies and individuals; we have businesses that need to continue when offline,” she said.
*Additional reporting by Lazarus Amukeshe
– Business Insider AG