Organised crime gangs in Africa

Posted on April 9, 2017 12:00 am

Over the past 4 years several African countries has been in the grip of a gangland war, resulting in murders and what has shocked even the most battle hardy crime watcher has been the brazen nature of many of these murders. In an extensive data your blogger has obtained, organised crime and gang violence has a long and rather colourful history in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Angola and Kenya but now the trend is spreading in other countries.The data I have suggests that the majority of the gang rape cases that occurred for the last four years have been carried out by underage boys.Ninety three percent of perpetrators were underage boys while the victims had been girls in 100 percent of the cases recorded. The data compiled by outside of security agencies does not include data collected by other stakeholders located in the rural and regencies across Africa hinting that the number of cases could be much higher. From January 2013 to December 2016, perpetrators of sex crimes were predominantly individuals, but now the crimes appear to be carried out in groups. Gang rape has become very terrifying especially in South Africa and Kenya.Almost one third of the cases in Kenya were carried out by underage perpetrators ranging in age from 15 to 17 years. Others were 14 years of age, while rest were aged 12 years or younger with South Africa being the home to young defilers. Many gang rape cases in South Africa are triggered by pornography and the consumption of alcohol and or drugs.These groups threaten children’s lives, influencing children watch pornography, to consume alcohol. Also, they could also be influenced by social media content.One of the most shocking cases in the report occurred in Kenya, where a 14-year-old, accompanied by six friends, all teenagers allegedly raped and murdered 13-year-old, who is thought to have been girlfriend of the 14-year-old, he was never prosecuted thanks to his family’s deep pocket. I can only hope one day justice will be served and victim’s family compensated.

In addition to rape, the business of illegal drugs shares some elements with the business of selling legal products among gangs. Common features include lots of working capital, a steady supply of raw materials, manufacturing facilities, reliable shipping and distribution and marketing networks. But it is knowing what criminal networks are operating at what level that is the key to an effective law enforcement response.Generally, Africa’s street thugs are associated with gangs, petty crime, extortion and debt collecting more than drugs.In Kenya, for instance, a transport vendors says they spares one or two packs of cash each day as an allotment for local thugs.It depends on what number of trips you make, on average the are forced to set aside three tips income day as a loss. It’s for the thugs. On Kenyan streets, such payments is a mutually understood path to harmony, a payoff for a sort of peace.Kenyans don’t see it as extortion. They know them well and it’s already considered like family shakedown.Its darker days in Kenya since bus and other public transport vans station are home to thugs who drink, carry on with prostitutes and even killed people in the area. According to the data, one can barely notices the thugs, at least during daylight hours because they are largely integrated in the industry.On the good side, in the evening, streetlights and better security have made the vicinity less of a gang haven. But if low-scale strong-arming has decreased in some places, that does not mean the violent gangs have gone away. Indeed, some say gangs are stronger than ever on Nairobi’s streets.In last two years, South Africa gangs have again grabbed headlines with the shooting and subsequent arrest of well-known gang leaders.One of the gang leader was accused by South African police service of being involved in multiple murder. Another one was shot in the leg by police during the shootout, denied the charges and his family said it planned to report the officers involved in the shooting but that didn’t happen. In a seemingly unrelated incident, in Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos, rival gangs battled and killed ten of people, injuring several and outraging community in 2015 but nothing was done following the incident as gang members are said to be in cahoot with law enforcement officers.

To most Africans, this dark side of underworld whether petty scams or shootouts is a mystery they don’t want to know about.Gangs are controlling African cities. They are ruthless and operate in the open, undermining police and other security forces.It’s scary if you know what really goes on,” a friend living in Johannesburg to your blogger last week, recalling gang days in his neighbourhood last year, one of them was imprisoned for a week and released after he repented for killing two people. Middle and upper class Africans only brush up against roughneck gangs if they are being chased by debt collectors working for banks and loan sharks or perhaps if they get caught up in one of the periodic brawls that erupt inside Johannesburg’s nightspots over protection money and turf.The role gangs allegedly play in providing security services both for legal nightspots and shadier underground businesses like gambling dens isn’t something new in western world but in Africa is an emerging threat. Although the affluent African may turn a blind eye to the dark side, it cannot be separated from daily life in the cities across Africa any more than traffic or pollution.They are very organised, use legitimate youth organisations as a cover to recruit, train and deploy young people to be enforcers, debt collectors and assassins.They are more dangerous because they have money, power and backing.The organised thugs could be dealt with if the police had the will to do so. But the underlying problem is that the police have a history of using gangs for their own ends. Battles over lucrative territory are a big part of the picture.Other fights have erupted over control of illegal parking lots linked to criminal activity. In several African countries, there have been growing calls on social media for a tough, even extra-legal, crackdown on gangs due to the current wave of publicity. Unless there is clean government and law enforcement in Africa, those gangs will still walk free irrespective of whatever Africans do.

Contador Harrison