Criminal gang activities: A critical and comparative analysis of the statutory framework under South African criminal law

Van Der Linde, Delano Cole (2018-12)

Thesis (LLD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Criminal gang activity presents a substantial threat to the lives of, in particular, the Cape Flats community in the Western Cape. This dissertation investigates the legislative response in holding gang members responsible, namely Chapter 4 the Prevention of Organised Crime Act 121 of 1998 (“POCA”). POCA was promulgated in order to better address a trinity of crimes, namely money laundering, racketeering and criminal gang activity (generically known as “organised crime”). Despite significant strides in combating money laundering and racketeering, the same cannot be said for criminal gang activity. In fact, the incidence of gangrelated crimes has increased since the promulgation of the Act. During the 2017/2018 financial year, for example, more than one in every five murders (21,6%) committed in the Western Cape was gang-related. This dissertation opens by investigating the proliferation of criminal gangs in the Cape Flats communities as well as the need for additional legislation in dealing with gang activity, rather than relying on existing means. The main reason for the promulgation of POCA was said to be the ineffective common law modalities used in dealing with group-based crime, namely the common purpose doctrine (in particular), conspiracy, incitement and public violence. These modalities were therefore scrutinised for two reasons. Firstly: to determine to what extent (and why) the common law inadequately addressed gang activity. Secondly: if the common law is still useful and how it can be developed to more effectively deal with gang activity. A critical and comparative analysis of the threshold requirements (under Chapter 1 of POCA), specific crimes, as well as related sentencing for gang-related activity follows. Foreign and international law relating to organised crime is consulted for interpretive guidance. This analysis must be read together with the analysis of Chapters 1 and 4 of POCA under the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. It considers both the fair trial rights of the accused, as well as in terms of the State’s constitutional duty to protect its inhabitants. These analyses cumulatively elucidate the interpretive, substantive, institutional and constitutional issues with Chapters 1 and 4 of POCA. It is ultimately found that Chapter 4 of POCA is both weak and substantially similar to the common law. If we accept the assumption that the common law is ineffective in dealing with gang activity as true, then we must conclude that a statutory manifestation thereof is equally as ineffective. Based on this argument, immediate statutory amendment, supplementation or replacement of both Chapters 1 and 4 of POCA is called for. In this regard, alternative legal mechanisms, as well as foreign and international law is consulted. International law is consulted in particular to address the further punishment of gang leaders which is dealt with inadequately under POCA. This dissertation concludes as well as making substantive suggestions for amendments to the text of POCA as well as a new crime addressing the liability of gang leaders.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Kriminele bende-aktiwiteit bied 'n wesenlike bedreiging vir die lewens van veral die Kaapse Vlakte-gemeenskap in die Wes-Kaap. Hierdie proefskrif ondersoek wetgewende reaksie wat bendelede aanspreeklik hou, naamlik Hoofstuk 4 die Wet op die Voorkoming van Georganiseerde Misdaad Wet 121 van 1998 ("POCA"). POCA is gepromulgeer om 'n triologie van misdade naamlik geldwassery, rampokkery en kriminele bende aktiwiteit (generies bekend as “georganiseerde misdaad”) beter aan te spreek. Ten spyte van beduidende vordering in die bestryding van geldwassery en rampokkery, kan dieselfde nie vir kriminele bende-aktiwiteite gesê word nie. In werklikheid het die voorkoms van bendeverwante misdade sedert die promulgering van die Wet toegeneem. Gedurende die 2017/2018-boekjaar, byvoorbeeld, is meer as een uit elke vyf moorde (21,6%) wat in die Wes-Kaap gepleeg was, aan bedes togeskryf. Hierdie proefskrif begin deur die verspreiding van kriminele bendes in die Kaapse Vlakte-gemeenskappe te ondersoek, asook die behoefte aan bykomende wetgewing in die hantering van bendeaktiwiteite (eerder as om op bestaande middele te staat te maak). Die hoofrede vir die promulgering van POCA was die ondoeltreffende gemeenregtelike meganismes wat gebruik is in die stryd teen groepsgebaseerde misdaad, aan te vul. Hierdie meganismes is die gemeenskaplike oogmerk-leerstuk (veral), sameswering, aanhitsing en openbare geweld. Hierdie meganismes is gevolglik weens twee redes ondersoek. Eerstens: om te bepaal tot watter mate (en waarom) die gemenereg ondoeltreffend was om bendeaktiwiteit aangespreek. Tweedens: indien die gemenereg steeds nuttig is en hoe dit ontwikkel kan word om meer doeltreffend bendeaktiwiteit aan te spreek. 'n Kritiese en vergelykende analise van die drempelvereistes (ingevolge Hoofstuk 1 van POCA), spesifieke misdade, asook verwante vonnisoplegging vir bendeverwante aktiwiteite volg. Vreemde en internasionale reg rakende georganiseerde misdaad word geraadpleeg vir leiding rakende die uitlegging van POCA. Hierdie ontleding moet met die analise van Hoofstukke 1 en 4 onder die Grondwet van die Republiek van Suid-Afrika, 1996, saamgelees word. Dit oorweeg beide die beskuldigde se reg op ‘n billike verhoor, sowel as die Staat se grondwetlike plig om sy inwoners te beskerm. Hierdie analises lig kumulatief die uitleggings-, substantiewe, institusionele sowel as grondwetlike kwessies van Hoofstukke 1 en 4 van POCA uit. Daar word uiteindelik bevind dat Hoofstuk 4 van POCA beide swak sowel wesenlik dieselfde isas die gemenereg. As ons die aanname dat die gemenereg ondoeltreffend was in die bestryding van bende-aktiwiteit as waar aanvaar, dan moet ons tot die gevolgtrekking kom dat 'n wetgewende manifestasie daarvan ewe ondoeltreffend is. Op grond van hierdie argument, word daar ‘n beroep gedoen vir die onmiddellike wetgewende wysiging, aanvulling of vervanging van beide Hoofstukke 1 en 4 van POCA. In hierdie verband word alternatiewe regsmeganismes, sowel as vreemde en internasionale reg, geraadpleeg. Internasionale reg word veral oorweeg om die verdere bestrawwing van bendeleiers aan te spreek, wat onvoldoende onder POCA hanteer word. Hierdie proefskrif sluit sowel af met substantiewe voorstelle vir wysigings aan die teks van POCA asook 'n nuwe misdaad rakende aanspreeklikheid van bendeleiers.

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