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Plasma gangs: how South Africans’ fears about crime created an urban legend

The theft of flat-screen TVs for a white powder to make woonga shows how myth and uncertainty help cultivate fear

03 July 2022 - 18:52 By Nicky Falkof

Around the middle of 2013 a series of stories appeared in the SA press about a new phenomenon called “plasma gangs”, presented as the latest iteration of the country’s crime crisis. Journalists, broadcasters, police and government spokespeople, social media users and local residents shared tales online and in mainstream media of the frightening exploits of these gangs, said to be located in Alexandra township north of Johannesburg...

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