26 May 2014

South Africa: The Cape's Youth Gangs - Bigger, Deeper, More Dangerous


Gangsterism in the Western Cape is rife. In 2013, 12% of the 2,580 murders in the province were gang-related (2nd behind arguments turned violent), according to the South African Police Service. This is an 86% increase from 2012. In addition, children as young as 14 are being arrested on gang-related murder charges. If the social and environmental factors that nurture gangsterism are left unaddressed, there will be small hope for the children and young adults gripped by gangs in the Western Cape.

The Apartheid relocation of coloured and black people from the Cape Town inner city to the Cape Flats and surrounding townships had a powerful effect on those relocated. The social dislocation nurtured conditions for the burgeoning street gangs of the early 1980s to thrive, according to criminologist Don Pinnock, in his 1997 book Gangs, Rituals, & Rites of Passage.

Suburbs on the Cape Flats such as Manenberg, Elsies River and Parkwood have deeply entrenched, decades-old gang structures. And there are now fledgling gangs forming in the townships of Khayelitsha and Nyanga.

Just how to deal with this problem has become a much-debated and highly politicised subject, with Western Cape premier Helen Zille recently calling for...

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