Gangsterism in the context of the study may be defined as the culture of belonging to organized gangs of criminals’ especially involving violence (Standing, 2005). Teenagers these days lack focus. They do not know where they are heading, whether in the academic or social sense. Therefore, this gives rise to several problems, mostly gangsterism happens among the teenagers who are involved in social ills such as drug addicts, drinking alcohol, smoking and gambling. These teenagers are not concerned about their studies or anything in life, so they end up getting themselves into gangsterism.
Gangsterism is a complex phenomenon existing in countries all over the world. Young people between the ages of 12 and 24 are commonly involved in gangs with the majority being male (Keiser, 2012). This chapter briefly discusses the concept of gangsterism and why it is a problem globally and in southern Africa in particular. This chapter includes the study’s problem statement, research question, significance of the study, aim and objectives as well as the definition of concepts.
Background of the study
Gangs are most commonly viewed as an American phenomenon, though teenage gangs have been stated across many countries (Keiser, 2012). The literature on international gangs is scarce, most frequently just reporting gang’s existence in a certain country. The research that has been conducted overseas commonly focuses on the characteristics of gangs and gang’s participation in criminal activity. Nevertheless, gangs in many other countries share many characteristics with American gangs.
Gangs in the united states include several types of groups, including national street gang’s local street gangs, prison gangs, motor cycle gangs, and ethnic and organized gangs. Approximately 1.4 million people were part of gangs as of 2011, and more than 33,000 gangs were active in the United States (Keiser, 2012). Many American gangs started, and still exist, in urban areas. In many cases, national street gangs formed in major cities such as Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, and New York City, and they later migrated to other American cities such as Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Kansas City, st Louis, Dallas, Memphis, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Orlando, Houston, Detroit and Tampa.
Research in Canada was mainly focused on Asian gangs, describing Chinese gangs in Vancoir and Vietnamese gangs in Toronto. Robert Gordon emphasized the ethnic diversity of Vancouver gangs, disagreeing that although these gangs always have ethnic names, a few of them are actually composed of the members of the same ethnic group. Gordon (2014) suggested that the reason behind that is because the educational and health systems as well as the social services at the Canadian cities are more active at addressing the problems linked with gangsterism. Mexican gangs appear very similar to Cholo culture of the Hispanic gangs of the south west united states, being similar in territoriality, gang conflicts, graffiti, and criminal activities. Though, American gangs also seem to be a vast difference in their actions particularly gangs in urban and rural areas (Taylor, 2011).The limited research on gangs in Asia shows that youth gang in Malaysia and Thailand commit a quite large stake of the total crime there. Chinese triads have gained a lot of attention from the media; however, these triads are mostly composed of adult males rather than juveniles. These trios may have a specific role that they play in youth gangs (Taylor, 2011). They may serve as a blueprint for youth gang structure and activities and also engaging new members for the trios. Chinese youth gangs focused in theft and drugs have been stated, as well as other gangs that are involved in a lot of different criminal activities and are more varied in age, number of members, and degree of territoriality.
Youth gangs are also common all over Europe. Gangs committed a large portion of total crime in Spain in the 1980s but few gangs exist currently (Klein, 2015). After some time of absence, gangs have reemerged in France although they are still much less predominant than in the united states. At least in Paris, the reemergence of gangs is thought to have been spurred by the increase in drug trafficking and the growth of the underclass (kroeker and Haut, 2015). Generally, it may be impossible to find no gangs in Africa because of the state of the state of socioeconomic and political affairs that affects the growth and nurturing of Africa. To begin with, one can contextualize aging generally as a group of associating individuals with a form of leadership and internal organization, identifying with or claiming power over territory in a community, and engaging in violent or other forms of illegal behavior.
During the past decade, organized gangs have increased in the western Kenya region. Most of them have been blacklisted by the government intelligence arm for having severally obeyed the rule of law. Although organized gangs may seem to be dangerous, the visible members are able to change themselves into loose gangs to prevent any security compromise (Gordon, 2014). In Kenya, the gangs are born due to issues relating unemployment, weak justice system, corruptible law enforcement systems, poverty, ignorance, widened socio-economic class, inequality and moral reprehension. The police service has failed to deal with the strategies of gangs, particularly where their activities are not too obvious because of lack of information for tactical and strategic use. Most of the articles which are written online shows that the same police service has been blamed for been reluctant in arresting gang members and in the process defying intelligence collected.
While South Africa’s transition from autocratic to democratic governance is often described as a miracle, this miracle has also created an environment in which the production, distribution, and consumption of illegal drugs flourishes. Moreover, as both a function of history and contemporary problems, the South African state has failed to create a more equitable and productive society, the result of which is that members of many communities continue to be economically isolated, political disenfranchised, and socially excluded. Into this void, the lure and draw of gangsterism has become very powerful, especially in the Western Cape region. Taken together, the gangs provide angry young people an identity while the financial accruements of the trade in the many illegal drugs gives them the ability to express that identity (Kroeker et al, 2015). Problematically, the laws that the South African state relies on in order to police and prevent the illegal production, distribution, and use of drugs, and those that target gangsterism, are symptomatic and frequently inadequate.
In South Africa, more especially in the Western Cape province, gangsterism has been present for year, especially among the lower socioeconomic colored community living in the cape flats. Standing associated the increased prevalence of gangsterism in this community to the forced removals, in accordance with the group areas act of 1950 of the south African apartheid era. During this time the colored people, mostly of district 6 were relocated to the cape flats, causing much disorganization within the community. Where previous delinquent behavior by the youth was largely managed and informally controlled by parents, neighbors and extended family in the pre-apartheid era.
Forced removals led to a breakdown in the social control and networks of this community. Criminal gangs steal and destroy property, sell drugs to the children and commit acts of Violence and brutality that threaten the safety and security of the residents at Langeloop village. The number of gang and gang members has been growing steadily in Langeloop for years. For too long efforts to address gang problems in South Africa have been left to local law enforcement and community leaders with minimal federal and state support and no stated strategy.
1.3 Problem statement
Criminal gangs pose a significant and growing threat to the safety and security of the citizens of Langeloop. It is a reality that being a member of a youth gang is risky and disadvantageous in the sense that one is more likely to be involved in illegal behavior and engage in illegal activities and more likely to be caught by the police and get imprisoned. Nevertheless, youth gangs still enjoy the popularity they have in our society.
More and more teenagers become gang members wherein they learn behaviors which are not acceptable to the society and that only place them at risk. Gangs have a long history in our society and it may be unrealistic to believe that we can completely eliminate gangs in our society (Hagedorn, 2013). At the same time, it has been alarming to find out how fast gangs spread across the villages, cities and state, taking dominion on communities and overpowering law enforcements.
Gang leaders are the higher tiers of the gang’s command. This gang member is probably the oldest in the group, possibly has the least criminal record, and they mostly have the supremacy to direct the gang’s action, whether they are involved or not. In many authorities, this person is likely a jail gang associate calling the shots from within the custodial system or is on parole. Often, they distance themselves from the street gang activities and make attempts to appear legitimate, possibly operating a business that they run as fronts for the gang’s drug dealing or other illegal operations.
Many teenagers that are involved in gangs have challenges and barriers they have to go through life. Even though society see them as low-life, street trash, the truth is they are trying to live a regular life even though they do some bad things that society don’t like, it is their way of getting through life as they struggle to survive in the world.
Communities affected by gang-related violence may be less motivated to develop stable and effective partnerships with their local police. Those partnerships must be built through sustained effort and clear policies regarding officers’ responsibilities to residents. Residents may hesitate to become involved in violence-prevention projects because they may be threatened by the gang. Coordination among police, prosecutors, probation services, social agencies, churches, and other resources helps residents feel comfortable and supported in their involvement
1.4 Purpose of the study
This study seeks to explore and understand the factors that contribute to a teenager’s desire to join a gang. This research also seeks to gain an understanding that why some young people join gangs while others do not.
1.5 Objectives of the study
The objectives of the study are as follows:
To identify the factors that attracts teenagers into joining gangs.
To explore on the effects of gangsterism on the teenagers.
To find out about the daily challenges of the life of a young gangster.
To present the strategies of preventing gangsterism.
1.6 Research questions
The research questions of this study are as follows:
What are the factors that lead teenagers to join gangs?
What are the consequences of being a teenage gangster?
What are the daily challenges of the life of young gangster?
What could be done to keep the teenagers at Langeloop village away from gangsterism?
1.7 Significance of the study
By studying the factors that lead teenagers to join gangs, the appropriate stakeholders would be in a better position to offer programs and information that would keep the teenagers from joining gangs, hence we would have a better society, a more positive, creative and promising youth and less crime rates, delinquency and violence.
1.8 definition of concepts
Anti-social behavior: anti-social behavior covers a wide range of unacceptable activities that causes harm to an individual, to their community or to their environment. This could be an action by someone else that leaves you feeling alarmed, harassed or distressed. It also includes fear of crime or concern for public safety, public disorder or public nuisance (Nott et al, 2010:6).
Crime: an act committed in violation of the law where the consequence of conviction by a court is punishment, especially where the punishment is a serious one such as imprisonment.
Delinquency: Nott et al (2010:6) defined delinquency as a criminal behavior, especially that carried out by a juvenile. Depending on the nation of origin, a juvenile becomes an adult anywhere between the ages of 15 to 18, although the age is sometimes lowered for murder and other serious crimes. Delinquency implies conduct that does not conform to the legal or moral standards of the society; it usually applies to acts that would be termed criminally if they were performed to adults.
Gang: Pinnock (2017) referred to a gang as a group of good friends or family with identifiable leadership and internal organization, identifying with or claiming control over territory in a community, and engaging either individually or collectively in illegal or violent behavior. Some criminal gang members are “jumped in” or have to prove their loyalty by committing acts such as theft or violence. A member of a gang may be called a gangster or a thug
Gangsterism: Pinnock (2017) referred to gangsterism as a phenomenon which includes the formation of groups with the aim of committing violence and crime, and to defend themselves physically against violence of other groups. Gangsterism is often characterized as anti-social behavior.
Teenager: Nott et al (2010:6) defines a teenager as a young person whose age falls within the range from 13-19. They are called teenagers because their age ends with teen.
Territory: Pinnock (2017:42) defines a territory as a certain area that is owned or under the control of someone. In this study territory refers to a section of a community that gangs claim to be their own.
Violence: is defined by the world health organization as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation (Pinnock, 2017:42).