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"Thieving Blacks": gangs and crime in Soweto as reported in white English newspapers during the 1940's and 1950's.

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dc.contributor.author Radebe, Nomshado Maria
dc.date.accessioned 2007-12-06T07:57:35Z
dc.date.available 2007-12-06T07:57:35Z
dc.date.issued 2007-12-06T07:57:35Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/161
dc.description.abstract This study is an investigation of how the white English Language Press reported on black gangs in Soweto and their crimes during the 1940s and 1950s. The aim of this investigation is to increase our understanding of white English-speaking racial attitudes during the 1940s and the 1950s by investigating white perceptions of criminal gangs in Soweto during this time. To provide a yardstick, the study includes a discussion of our present state of knowledge on the topic as reflected in the secondary literature about gangsters and their crimes. During the 1940s black gangsters and their crimes were very seriously underreported compared to what we now know to have been the situation at that time. This suggests that English-speaking whites were not particularly interested in black gangsters and their crimes at this time. The reports that did appear reflected the attitude that unemployed blacks, whether they were part of gangs or not, had to be expelled from urban areas as they were all perceived to be gangsters. The headlines, reports and letters on black gang crime worked together to imply that blacks were criminals by nature. In the 1950s the level of reporting improved, as compared to the 1940s and reflected a much more serious concern about “Tsotsis”. The detailed descriptions of Tsotsis, their fashion and the language that they spoke reflect this concern. But the newspapers failed to indicate that not all young men who fitted their descriptions were Tsotsis. This omission strengthened white readers’ negative perception about young black men in general instead of distinguishing between criminals and other elements. Today, we know far more about black migrant and urban gangs and their crimes during this period from modern secondary sources than was reported in the white English Press at the time. This underreporting must have helped whites to remain ignorant of the real state of affairs in the black communities of the area. Both in the 1940s and 1950s the press concentrated on the harmful influence and criminal activities of gangs, which further strengthened the prevailing negative perceptions about young black men, who would all be perceived as “Thieving Blacks”. en
dc.description.sponsorship Mr. GR Allen en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Soweto (South Africa) en
dc.subject gangs en
dc.subject crime en
dc.subject crime and the press en
dc.title "Thieving Blacks": gangs and crime in Soweto as reported in white English newspapers during the 1940's and 1950's. en
dc.type Thesis en


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