Why do ‘crime bosses’ settle in one place and not another? It is an intriguing and under researched question on which little has been written. In South Africa a cluster of individuals associated with organised crime moved into, or were associated with, a particular suburb: Bedfordview, south-east of Johannesburg. How did Bedfordview become known as the stomping ground of some of the city’s most notorious underworld figures? The most notorious was Radovan Krejcir, but he himself plugged into an established network of individuals with links to the underworld.

A new article, based on interviews with people close to high level crime figures or in political or civic leadership roles in Bedfordview, explores why this neighbourhood in particular was chosen. It argues that ‘place, history and social networks can work together at particular moments in time to produce a “space” for heightened criminal opportunities”. Its analysis suggests that a range of factors, both pull and push, coalesced to make Bedfordview, an upper class predominantly white neighbourhood, attractive to organised crime figures.

  1. Pull factors linked to geography, lifestyle, ethnicity and infrastructure
  2. Push factors reflect changes in wider urban development and the upward mobility of a set of ‘businessmen’ linked to grey or illegal markets in the city

Krejcir’s carrer demostrates that organised criminals do not need to be embedded in down-and-out areas of a city, because, under the right conditions, they can tap into those worlds directly from an affluent and comfortable suburb.

Download the full, academic article here.

Photo credit: Pam Golding Properties