Organised crime is traditionally viewed as a harmful anti-social phenomenon. However, in pockets of the Cape Flats it seems that a criminal elite gain community respect and support. This paper explores the origin of this support and contemplates the extent to which leaders of organised crime on the Flats can be considered social. In particular, it explores how the criminal economy provides income and commodities, and how the criminal elite provide local governance and philanthropy. It is suggested that organised crime is indeed a rational response to urban crisis, and it does supply beneficial outcomes for the local community. Yet it is also argued that the social side of organised crime both relies on as well as coexists with its damaging and exploitative side. There is therefore a complex social contradiction to organised crime that has often been overlooked by traditional analysis.
About the author
Andre Standing is a PhD candidate registered at the criminology department at Middlesex University in London. In 2000 Andre received a Leverhulme Trust studentship to conduct research on organised crime in South Africa.