n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Criminologists in corrections : an assessment and understanding of gang involvement and related behaviour

Special Edition 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093


Gangs and the involvement in gangs in prisons in South Africa have been covered extensively in the media. Street gangs and prison gangs are noted because of how they interact and their readiness to utilise violence to ensure power, control and dominance over contraband products, services and 'territories'. The power invested in prison gangs cannot be underestimated. In this regard, in South Africa, prison gang bosses have been instructed to harm and murder persons inside and outside the prison environment. These instructions serve to ensure (and to prove) the gang's power, control and their readiness to employ violence. This article uses a qualitative approach in the analysis of an adult male gang member in a correctional centre. The authors of this article demonstrate a practical criminological assessment of gang involvement and the existence of pro-criminal and pro-violent thinking patterns by identifying gang-related causes, motives, contributory factors, triggers, and high-risk situations. A case study is presented to outline how the gang member's life circumstances and gang involvement has enfolded into a life of crime. Lastly, the authors explain the offender's behaviour on the hand of applicable criminological theories. Although the politically correct word when referring to a correctional facility is a 'correctional centre' in South Africa, the word 'prison' is used by the media, the public, in literature, and within the academia. For the purpose of this article, the authors will use both the words 'prison' and 'correctional centre' interchangeably.

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