Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Gangs gain strong hold on communities

By Tando Mfengwana
13 September 2006

The Social Crime Prevention Directorate — which operates within the Department of Community Safety — to the Standing Committee Development has revealed a shocking picture of the changing face of gangsterism in the Western Cape.

The Cape Times quotes the director of the directorate as saying that gangsters are starting to become more organised and sophisticated, with women playing a bigger role in terms of crime.

He said that the gangs are doing what government fails to do, and that gangs are starting to run government services by using gaps to gain a stronger foothold within communities.

The report says that gangs sponsor people or provide job opportunities for youth in bids to recruit them. They sponsor political parties and football clubs and even offer bursaries and help with rent.

The report also says that human trafficking forms part of gang activities — indicating that to a certain extent they controlled entry and exit into the country.

In communities, gangsters are perceived as social allies. Schools were becoming markets for gang activities like drug trade and the purchase of stolen goods. School leaders were no longer role models as gangsters are the new role models.

The report says that there has been a drop in absence at 28 schools which had led to a decrease in gang recruitment.

Members of the standing committee indicated that questions needed to be asked about what resources were allocated to combat the growth of gang-related crime.

The reference was specifically made to Bambanani volunteers and whether they were serving an active role in schools.

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