Looking at areas where gangsterism and gang-related activity is the most prevalent, the National Anti-Gang Strategy and its objectives, as well as the role of the SAPS.
South Africa is one of the most crime-ridden countries in the world and a large contributor to the high levels of crime is the issue of gangsterism. Gang violence and crimes are an issue plaguing many communities around the country and creating dangerous environments for community members.
There are currently different parts of South Africa in which gangsterism is the most prevalent. These areas experience gang culture and violence at an alarming rate and frequency and in these areas, members are most vulnerable to feeling unsafe due to organised crime. So, where is gangsterism the most common in South Africa? Let us find out.
Gangsterism in South Africa
Gangsterism and organised crime in South Africa instil a sense of fear in community members where gang-related crime is at its worst. Some communities have had it the worst for many years now. The group or the association that make up an organised crime gang will always have an identity, a name, and an identifiable logo or symbol. The groups or gangs are either individually or collectively engaged in different forms of crime, with one of them including gangs fighting amongst each other, especially in the case of rivalries.
Where is gangsterism the most common in South Africa?
As mentioned above, gangsterism has its hotspots in South Africa where gang violence statistics are the highest. The government’s National Anti-Gang Strategy, which was developed in 2016, revealed that gangsterism is the most common in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng.
The gang culture is generally partially characterised by the domination of a particular area as a turf or free-zone for their illegal criminal dealings involving illegal drug trade, gang-on-gang violence, which not only results in the killing of gang members but also in the loss of innocent citizens’ lives, and other forms of crime. You will find that in the provinces where gangsterism is the most common, gangs are well-structured compared to other areas where gang-activity is not quite high, where you will find that gangs are more informal and less structured.
What are the strategic objectives of the National Anti-Gang Strategy?
The objectives of the National Anti-Gang Strategy developed by the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee (NICOC) are intended to help combat the prevalence of gangsterism in hotspots as well as countrywide.
The objectives of the strategy include adopting an effective coordinated and inter-departmental approach; promoting a community-centred approach to fighting gangsterism; creating partnerships between the government, the private sector, civil society, and communities; and mitigating all of the risks posed by gang-related activities through the implementation of prevention, containment, management, and mitigation mechanisms.
The National Anti-Gang Strategy background
The National Anti-Gang Strategy, together with its associated implementation plan, was approved by the cabinet in February 2017. The strategy was put into place as a result of the increasing phenomenon of gangs and gangsterism-related criminal activities, including organised crime. The framework of the strategy is based on four pillars namely, human development, social partnerships, spatial design, and the Criminal Justice Process.
The four pillars need to include law enforcement, social crime prevention, and environmental design programmes and projects addressing aspects of gang-related crime. The South African Police Service (SAPS) leads the Criminal Justice Process.
The role of the SAPS in the fourth pillar: Criminal Justice Process
The SAPS is the leader of the implementation of the fourth pillar in the framework of the National Anti-Gang Strategy. As the drivers of crime prevention and the protectors of South African citizens, the SAPS ensure that it focuses on the four key areas of the Criminal Justice Process, which are, the mobilisation of the community and overall safety, the gathering of intelligence and coordination, the prevention of crime and combating approach, as well as the investigation of gang-related cases.
The issue of gang-related crime has plagued many communities in South Africa and left their members intimidated and living in fear due to the nature of criminal activities that are committed by groups of violent gangs that harm communities and often result in both involved and innocent people’s deaths.
The prevalence of gangsterism is most common in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Gauteng, where gangs have been identified as more highly organised, formal, and structured compared to smaller gangs in other provinces. The implementation of the National Anti-Gang Strategy endeavours to aid the fight against gangsterism in South Africa.