Organised crime and the South African State post 1994: a social network analysis of organised criminal networks in the Western Cape

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Crime, and the criminals that enact it, are no new phenomenon; however, the way in which we conceptualise and understand organised crime requires revision. Orthodox approaches are no longer relevant to current manifestations of crime, nor is it sufficient to fully grasp its endurance. The difficulty in understanding modern day criminal activity is exacerbated by the fact that leaders of criminal organisations are no longer merely 'criminals' distinct from ‘ordinary citizens’. They can also assume identities of state personnel, politicians, policemen and powerful businessmen. In essence, the fight against crime, but more specifically organised crime, can no longer be solely conceptualised as a fight against criminals, as they have been traditionally conceived of, but rather a fight against criminal networks. Approaches to organised crime therefore require a methodological approach that highlights the complicated relationships and networks sustaining organised crime. This thesis will ground itself in the theoretical framework of networks and social network analysis. In order to adequately understand the nature and operations of organised crime we need to start understanding organised crime as outfits of criminal networks spread across communities, cities, and countries creating webs that link a dynamic range of people, businesses and organisations that work together to sustain and profit off organised criminal activity. One of these links that has previously been ignored is the link between criminals and the State. Research shows that the relationship between State and organised crime is not always one of conflict. In many cases it has been found that the State and organised criminal entities share alliances and mutual interests. In South Africa, there are various cases revealing corruption among state officials. Reputable media outlets have reported numerous stories of corruption, which highlight a crisis that may be systemic. The question relevant to this thesis, is what is the relationship between corruption and organised crime? It is for these reasons that this thesis will explore two case studies in which to assess the theory of network and social network analysis. Following a literature review and critical analysis of organised crime, the concept of criminal networks and a shifting from conceptualizing this phenomena as a hierarchy towards a network understanding, these case studies shall be explored. The intent is to conclude what these networks look like, who is involved, how they operate and what type of relations organised criminals share with the State. It is the hope that this thesis can contribute towards current debates on organised crime, specifically on how organised crime has shifted from an understanding of hierarchy to one of a network.