‘Fastest gunslinger is victorious’

VOLATILE: Turf wars among the more than 130 gangs in the Cape Flats result in almost daily shoot-outs with children being caught in the crossfire.

DRUGS, guns and prostitution are at the core of gangsterism in the gangravaged Cape Flats and this is why the evil cycle is flourishing. Gangs are armed to the teeth and operate with impunity, showing no pity to their victims or their families. It is a case of the fastest gunslinger walks away victorious after pumping a rival gangster full of bullets.

The notorious Hard Livings gang, the Clever Kids, the Americans, Junky Funky Kids, the 28s and 26s gangs are the ones calling the shots, taking out rivals, orchestrating turf wars and ordering hits on their enemies. There are more than 130 gangs operating in the Cape Flats and not a single month goes by without a gangster being shot or an innocent child being hit by a stray bullet. Shattered windows in homes in the most-feared areas and the amount of people gunned down this year is proof that no end is in sight. Some of the most volatile areas on the Cape Flats are Manenberg, where the Americans, HLs and Nice Time Kids are locked in a fierce war, Mitchells Plain, where the 28s fight to tighten their stranglehold, Bishop Lavis and Elsie’s River, where the 28s also want to show they are the boss, Hanover Park and Lavender Hill. The turf war is all about getting the biggest slice of lucrative drug cake that’s raking in millions of rands.

The high flyers sit in their lavish homes in some of the city’s most expensive areas while they turn a blind eye to the bloodshed on the Cape Flats. The sad part is that the drug lords go to the extreme to protect their own kids from falling prey to drugs but at the same time, they have contaminated the Cape Flats and turned thousands of kids into drug addicts. They have turned the city’s poorest communities into battlegrounds. Senior police officer Maj-Gen Jeremy Veary made great inroads when he was in charge of Operation Combat, the province’s anti-gang unit to deal with gangs and drugs, and the unit contributed to the conviction and sentencing of several prominent gangsters. Veary said: “Members of Operation Combat cut the supply route of drugs to the Western Cape and this resulted in an escalation in war.

One drug lord is deprived of drugs and he will then wage a war with rival gangs in the area to get back his lost revenue.” The problem of gangsterism and drugs is further compounded by communities turning a blind eye when their children join gangs and hide drugs and ammunition in their homes. Another painful sight is the homes of elderly people being taken over by gang bosses, with the blessing of their grandchildren and turned into drug dens. A community policing forum chairperson who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Gangster bosses are dishing out money like Father Christmas in the poorest communities to get residents behind them.

They are seen as Good Samaritans and once arrested, the community rocks up outside the court in great numbers, calling for their release. “In this way, guns and drugs are freely hidden in houses and moved around to the next house if police carry out raids. Parts of our communities have been sucked into this cycle and there is no way of getting out.” Although Police Minister Fikile Mbalula promised to bring in the SANDF to help fight the scourge of crime in the area, gangsters, who are heavily armed, are not expected to relent. The lucrative drug business is motivation enough to continue with their criminal acts.