Gang Violence in Africa

June 28, 2016

Few African countries have western countries type of gangs but slowly frequent violent brawls are becoming increasingly common in African cities and the situation will worsen in the years ahead according to crime researcher I spoke to few days ago. In South Africa, an incident involving gangs saw the police hunt those responsible for a series of confrontations that saw guns, knives used on warring groups in downtown Johannesburg.In cape Town, a vicious fight between two gangs outside a concert venue early that the crime researcher witnessed few months grew into a rolling street battle involving dozens of combatants, with police calling for reinforcements to quell the fighting.In images he shared with me, the situation wasn’t for the faint hearted.Random outbreaks of public violence involving ethnic gangs in Kenya and other groups are also expected to become more frequent in densely populated urban centres. The reason, the researcher told me was that there appears to be an increase in youth violence in Kenyan cities of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu mainly because of changes in socialisation, particularly through family and early environments. This has occurred through the last 10 to 15 years , the self-discipline that is the product of a stable family environment has significantly declined.

As someone with extensive understanding of East and Southern Africa countries, over the last few years I have seen children growing up with more inclined to impulsive behaviour, which according to science leads to criminality, specifically through violence and aggression. Cases of sexual violence against children that have emerged in several countries across Africa, has continued to raise a question on what has happened to Africa’s morals.Recent gang rape and murder of a teenage girls has brought the serious threat of sexual violence against children into African society consciousness. The tragic incidents, where victims are brutally raped and killed by men, has led mourning parents and deeply upset rights activists on a search for effective measures to prevent sexual violence against women and children. This may be just the tip of the iceberg. It is likely that many cases of sexual violence against children are never reported to the public.In the latest case, a seven year school girl was reportedly gang raped in South Africa. The most alarming fact is, according to the local Police report, eight perpetrators of the crime are all still underage. Five perpetrators are reportedly teenage students while the three others are elementary school children.During their questioning at the police station, it was revealed that the sexual abuse had started four years ago. Both the victim and the perpetrators were living in an area in Johannesburg suburb.

It was the victim’s childhood friend, who reportedly first molested the ill-fated girl when she was 3 years old. In his testimony to the police, the boy said he molested the girl almost every day and reportedly had often forced the girl to take a kind of drug called Nyaope in South Africa, making her addicted to sex and drugs until the present. Knowing that she was addicted to sex, in January this year, the boy started to invite his friends to rape and molest the victim in a group. The suspects had repeatedly molested the victim, the police report said.Violence against children is common in Africa. A 2014 study found 60 percent of children aged 9-15 years reported having been attacked at school or hone. However, several cases were not included in the study, including domestic and sexual violence. Therefore, it was highly important to collect comprehensive data to discover the extent of violence against children in Africa.The gang rape cases have shown that many factors can trigger sexual violence against children. These include excessive exposure to pornography, the absence of proper sex education for children, deep-rooted poverty and widespread use of alcohol. Stricter alcohol rules and tougher sanctions for sex crime perpetrators might be crucial in preventing sexual violence against children.Also, a school curriculum that neglects moral and character building has also been singled out as one of the causes of the crimes. Hence, it is not too much to say the rape cases going on have rung the bell, telling the governments in Africa it is time to start developing an education system that builds the good character of students otherwise gang violence will continue to worsen.

Contador Harrison