Two sets of factors have been proffered. The first set comprises the socio-economic or systemic factors. In the literature on gangs, these factors are emphasized by adherents of the Chicago school who identify slum and ghetto factors of rapid population change, poverty, poor housing, breakdown of social control and adult crime in the rise of gangs cf.
Thrasher, ; Shaw and McKay, ; the sub-culturalists who see gangs as response to status frustrations experienced by lower class adolescents cf. Cohen, ; Clowad and Ohlin, ; and the cultural deviance school which treats delinquent culture as a normal part of middle class culture. In the South African case, the systemic factors have been listed in a NICRO working paper as: lack of recreational facilities where the youths can ease tension, e.
These environmental factors, as stated, underplay the historical context of apartheid and skip the important factor of police complicity. With regard to the latter, in addition to alleged collusion with the gangs, to which reference has already been made, the neglect of police protection for the non-white population and their preoccupation with defending the apartheid state prevented the police from giving the gang problem the attention it deserved. As the Western Cape command has found out, criminal gangs can only be dealt with through the cooperation of the community which could not be guaranteed while under apartheid.
But the suspicions of collusion between some policemen and the gangs still prevents most Cape Plat residents from relying on the police; some in fact think the military should be called in. The Cape Flat gangs did not have such orientations, though most of them regard blacks as a threat to the coloureds; in fact one of the gangs is called kaffirslagtters — black slaughterers.
Even the gangs in the black townships had a negative influence on the liberation struggle. Mokwena shows how the gangs in Soweto actively obstructed civic organization activities and targeted ANC activists, leading at one stage to suspicions that they were sponsored by the government to destabilize the townships and weaken liberation movements.
These emphasize, as the major explanations for gang formation, individual pathologies resulting from faulty upbringing, unfulfilled personality needs, and masochist tendencies. Because these youths lack family support, they fulfil their need for belonging, survival and self-protection from the gang NICRO, The gangs in Soweto he says, are attractive to youths because they promise quick money, and successful leaders are idolized.
These explanations are useful because they help to explain why not all youths exposed to the same stimuli would join gangs it is assumed for example that a child brought up under strict parental control and who enjoys acceptance, love and protection from the family is unlikely to join a gang , but they have to be related to the environmental factors discussed earlier which relate upbringing to inequalities and the frustrations of relative deprivation.
This is the only way criminal violence can be related to other forms of violence as products of the same social milieu. Because of their very nature, the operations of gangs are shrouded in secrecy, and the researcher is treated with suspicion by both members of the gang and the police. In the case of the Cape Flats however, the existence of various organizations involved in the resolution of gangs and gang-related problems, notably NICRO and community anti-gang associations as well as an anti-gang unit in the police force proved quite helpful. These need, however, to be balanced with information that the researcher can gather from former gang members and, in some exceptional cases, actual gang members.
The following key points and questions provide the dimensions of this framework, Its objectives are to discover how urban violence can be analysed holistically and empirically. What is the history of urban areas? What policies and planning processes have shaped them? Have these policies been continuous and unchanging? How do they relate to the overall character and orientations of the state?
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The second area of concern is the spatial and socio-economic condition of cities, or what may be called the structural factors. Are there marked inequalities among the different areas of the city? In particular, are there slums?
Are these a consequence of planning failure or deliberate policy? What is the situation of housing, employment and social services delivery? Is there overcrowding? Is homelessness acute? Where do the homeless stay? What in particular is the level of relative deprivation? Is it at the individual level, where it is most likely to lead to non-collective violence, or has it been transformed into inequity such as allows for the mobilization of collective action?
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What is the structure of stratification and social mobility? Are the inequalities and deprivations perceived as legitimate or illegitimate? Are there gangs which transmit these cultures? How are these gangs organized, and what are their major activities? How is the civil society composed? Are there militant organizations? What is the character of the state: Is it despotic or democratic? What are the prevalent strategies of violence control? What is the role of the police? What is the social attitude towards violence as an interest-begotten strategy?
Are there justifications which make it acceptable? Whether in political or criminal form, every situation of violence has a threshold which, once passed, makes it become generalized. At what point does violence get out of hand and why? How are the various forms of violence related? Within the urban framework, as I have argued, it should be possible to analyse these various forms as emanating from basically the same social structure. It enables the researcher to relate background and facilitative factors to concrete cases, realizing as we have pointed out, that no matter how much the background factors tell us, they still are not sufficient to explain why violence occurs when it does and the way it does.
Another reason for the suitability of the case study method is that it is difficult to study all or even many aspects and instances of urban violence at once. The totality of violence as emphasized earlier is a very complex one, though, following the typologies which we discussed, it is possible to disaggregate them. When disaggregated, it is found that no matter how related they may be, certain types of violence are more prevalent than others. The researcher has first to find out what the prevalent forms are, and then, carefully choose cases which represent them.
In doing so, he should be guided particularly by the need to separate the popular from the neglected cases. In the case of South Africa, he must resist the temptation which the literature provides to focus on political violence. This afforded me a base from which to conduct this study.
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Finally, I want to thank Amen, my wife, and Osahon, Noyosayi, and Eseosa, our sons and daughter who contributed the sacrifice of separation from me during my sojourn in South Africa. I dedicate this study to Eseosa, our little darling, who came when I was away. Adam, H. Comparing Israel and South Africa: Prospects for conflict resolution in ethnic states.
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“Census Tracts of Chicago 1934: Per Cent Total Population Negro”
Shlapentokh, C. Vanderpool, and J. Sundram, eds. State Organized Terror. The case of violent repression. Westview, Boulder, San Francisco and Oxford. Cartwright, D. Tomson, and H. Schwartz eds. Gang Delinquency. Castells, M. Sheridan, trans.