Gangs: Causes, effect and solution
...From page 13
They resort to robbing and stealing to support their drug and alcohol habits. Larger groups normally keep these youngsters in check, offering them “jobs” – like selling drugs in their neighbourhoods.
however, gangs like seakhi and terene, operate like well-organised institutions. They consist of lower and upper structures governed by strict codes of conduct and gang rules. Breaking any of the rules or the code of conduct could mean death. Many who have tried have paid with their lives.
Gangs control large areas, usually communities or parts of cities and towns. These areas are known as “turfs”. Each gang normally has its own “turf” which they guard with their lives from other gangs. on their turfs, they manipulate their illicit activities, which include prostitution, drug dealing and shebeens. This is typical with unemployed Basotho men making illicit living by gathering gold dust in abandoned mines in South Africa who make literally hundreds of thousands of maloti, to provide living for their families and to fund their nefarious activities. These groups are mostly located in South African mining towns and have their turfs there and go underground to engage in their activities for months only to emerge later with thousands of maloti. They are colloquially called “litotomeng or zama-zama”. however, ominously for seakhi and terene they carry out their vicious killings even in areas one would hardly expect, where they have no visible presence.
Many communities have become dependent on the illegal and sometimes dangerous activities of gangsters. Money-laundering is big business for many gangs. That is why controlling and protecting large turfs are so important. people who may never obtain loans elsewhere are afforded loans by large gangs. in return, the gangsters get paid “interest” on the loans they handout. on the other hand, communities would not readily expose their savours-either out of fear or because they would have nowhere to go to obtain their monthly loans.
often, the order to commit a crime is filtered through the ranks of the gang. Thus, the person committing the crime never knows who gave the order. The police, there- fore, are never able to get hold of the leadership.
Some areas in our cities might be identified as gang hotspots. It is within these areas that gangs have the most influence. It is also in those areas that youngsters are taught their first steps into the world of gangs. Because of violence caused by fighting between gangs, many innocent people, including women and children, get caught in the crossfire. Countless people have lost their lives and others maimed for life.
The extent of the problem is so far-reaching that not even the police or government can say when gangsterism will be addressed to finality. Many are still unconvinced that increasing police force presence and roping in the army would stop or
reduce gang activities. Self-defence of individuals and communities, which sadly is taking the law into one’s own hands, seems the only way of fighting gangsterism. The police and other agencies have thus far failed.
Many innocent people are losing their lives while the police concentrate on disarming rather than arming the people. if people in gangridden areas were taught to arm themselves and take a stand within the bounds of the law, against the thugs that traumatize them daily, then gangsters would have the tables turned against them. The truth is, gangsters prefer unarmed victims and like all criminals, gangsters fear armed citizens and visible policing as well community policing within the parameters of the law.
in conclusion, if truth be told, unless there is a concerted effort by the police, army and other agencies as well as communities to curb gangsterism, this evil will live in our communities for quite some time.