About Me

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I saw active service in conventional, clandestine and covert units of the South African Defence Force. I was the founder of the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes in 1989 and its chairman until I left in 1997. Until its closure in 1998, EO operated primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West and were facing threats from insurgencies, terrorism and organised crime. EO also operated in South America and the Far East. I believe that only Africans (Black and White) can truly solve Africa’s problems. I was appointed Chairman of STTEP International in 2009 and also lecture at military colleges and universities in Africa on defence, intelligence and security issues. Prior to the STTEP International appointment, I served as an independent politico-military advisor to several African governments. Until recently, I was a contributing editor to The Counter Terrorist magazine. All comments in line with the topics on this blog are welcome. As I consider this to be a serious look at military and security matters, foul language and political or religious debates will not be entertained on this blog.

Monday, August 20, 2018


A rising tide of violent crime, a lot of it perpetrated by children and teenagers—themselves often the victims of violence at home, or under peer pressure, or under the influence of alcohol and drugs—has resulted in many blaming the failure of law enforcement agencies, the schools, and the government. Few parents are willing to point the finger at themselves. However, parenting comes with numerous responsibilities, as no child asked to be brought into this world.

Crimes committed by minors are not unique to South Africa—it seems to be an escalating international trend, if one is to believe numerous foreign publications and reports. Murder, rape, robbery, arson, stabbings, lack of respect, vandalism, and so forth, seem to increasingly be the order of the day.
In Africa, numerous armed anti-government forces make extensive use of children. Minors are either forced to join their ranks, or kidnapped into a life of armed conflict to serve as spies, ‘soldiers’, load carriers, prostitutes, and such like. Others are coerced into becoming suicide bombers.
A Ugandan academic recently compared the children recruited to serve in the gangs on the Cape flats to ‘child soldiers’. Not surprisingly, they bear many similarities to the child soldiers running around across Africa, and causing mayhem with a large degree of impunity.
Minors commit their crimes with no conscience or indeed accountability. Some do so as a result of peer pressure. Others are attracted to a life of ‘glamourous violence’ such as they see on TV; they want to become criminals as it gives them a ‘family identity’, a ‘uniform’, a sense of belonging, and the bling that goes with being a gangster.
With little to no education, and trapped in a cycle of ongoing violence—coupled to an increasingly high rate of unemployment, dysfunctional families,  and a loss of hope (especially in impoverished communities), these child-gangsters opt for a life of violent crime, with the misguided belief that it will stand them in good stead and improve their quality of life. In some instances, their decision is driven to initially survive. Ultimately it gives them power over people.
Yet, a life of crime can also lead to a very short life. Some get killed, and others end up in a bad space. Those who wish to walk away from the gangs they belong to, face almost certain violent retaliation at the hands of those they intend to abandon—or possibly compromise.
These young criminals have no fear of the police, the laws of the land, or the communities they reside in. Life and property are merely there—and theirs—to be taken. They have also learned that ‘crime does pay’—a view that motivates others to join the on-going crime spree, and this merely accelerates the growth of the child gangster phenomenon. This form of ‘violent entitlement’ is gathering its own momentum and will become increasingly difficult to stop.
By the time most of these child gangsters reach adulthood, they are already hardened criminals. 
We are quick to blame the failures of law enforcement on containing this ever-growing problem. Yet, the law enforcement failures—of which there are many—cannot be blamed solely on the policemen who serve.
Law enforcement officers are a reflection of the society they represent, but they also reflect how and what they are trained to do. In some instances, they also represent the crime syndicates.  This has resulted in many people losing faith in the South African Police Service. There are some policemen that are willing participants of crime, but not all of them are. This has, however, resulted in these young criminals either being protected by corrupt police officers, or developing a misguided sense of entitlement with no fear of legal or judicial action against them. This merely accelerates the growth of child gangsters.
Our education system, as broken, eroded, and withered as it is, is there to supposedly teach our children, and prepare them as the future leaders of South Africa. Like all things, education starts at home and it is here that discipline, manners, and respect for self and others ought to be imprinted—not only at school. Schools should desist from propagating politics, and should instead focus on education. But a crumbling educational system with a dire shortage of qualified teachers is increasingly unable to prepare the youth for the future.
Government also has a role to play in this growing problem. It has not done much to stimulate the economy, incentivise businesses and entrepreneurs, or allay the investor and citizen fears it has helped to create. It must act decisively against crime and violence. Its daily failures with regard to collapsed municipalities, degrading infrastructure, and an ever-decreasing interest in its people, are well known. Its actions have, in addition, strangled taxpayers and degraded business enterprises. This has created a shrinking economy and rising unemployment. Unemployment, and a loss of hope and income are the breeding grounds for criminality.
The role parents ought to play in the development of a responsible human being can never be overlooked. Many parents are so busy trying to survive in very difficult economic times, and they tend to become so focussed on family survival that they neglect their parental duties.
According to a recent assessment of violence, more than 70% of children have witnessed violence, either at home or elsewhere, have been the victims of crime, or know someone who has been impacted by crime. What does that tell us about the country’s future leaders?
With poor or no education, trapped in a cycle of poverty, and an evolving history of crime and violence, things are unlikely to improve.
Unless there is urgent intervention on many levels, we are setting up our country’s future—and that of our children—for a spectacular failure.