n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Policing South Africa's ganglands : a critique of a paramilitary approach

Volume 27, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The impetus for this article was inspired by a letter to the Editor in one of the local newspapers in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. In the letter the author calls for the need for a counterinsurgency and, by implication, a paramilitary approach by law enforcement, as a mechanism for addressing the continuing street gang violence in the Northern Areas of the city of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. It is widely perceived that at present law enforcement agencies have failed to adequately quell gang-related crimes in both the Western and Eastern Cape provinces, two regions where gang violence has become paramount. This article seeks to address the question of whether a paramilitary approach by law enforcement would be effective. The argument is that such an approach would in effect achieve the opposite of the intended outcome. This argument is based on a critique of the emerging paramilitary policing culture within the South African Police Service (SAPS), as well as the possible consequences of such an approach should it be employed against street gangs.

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