n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Rethinking occultism and crime : satanism, the occult and youth gang subcultures in the global and South African context - research

Volume 31 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093


The relationship between occultism and crime has often been explored in the criminological literature within the context of ritualistic crimes. In many instances, such crimes have been linked to Satanism and the occult (in its various guises). In the United States (US), Perlmutter’s (2004) text on religious terrorism and ritualistic crimes sought to provide some insights into the ritualised context of occult-related crimes and identified various subgroups whose criminal activities are underpinned by specific religious and ritualistic beliefs and practices. In the South African context, various scholars have explored occult-related crimes ranging from Satanism-related crime to African witchcraft-related crime. However, in the South African context, little work has been done on the relationship between the occult and crime within the context of youth gang subcultures. This discussion seeks to contribute to this under-researched issue by arguing for a rethinking of occultism and crime. It is argued that the emergence of occult beliefs and practices among youth gangs in South Africa necessitates a new way of approaching the occult and crime relationship, one that seeks to apply perspectives on this relationship to gang subcultures. This suggested rethinking of the occultism and crime relationship is timely, especially considering the apparent rise in occult-related dynamics among youth gang subcultures in South Africa and elsewhere.

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