Trouble In Paradise - Gang Violence in the Cape Flats

Candy-Kennedy-e13259676611731 1

Pic: Candy Kennedy (taken from web) 

The Fairest Cape is known to many for its idyllic scenery and cosmopolitan lifestyle, a play-ground for the rich and famous. There is however another reality experienced by a large percentage of those living in the Cape Flats far removed from the paradise depicted in tourism brochures- and it is a reality which is based in fear due to the scourge of gangsterism and violence which has plagued the Cape Flats for decades.

The Cape Flats, described by some as 'apartheid's dumping ground' is a flat expansive area southeast of the central business district which during the Apartheid regime was demarcated for all those 'non-white' citizens living in the Western Cape. Thousands of non-white citizens were forcefully removed from their homes and relocated to homes on 'The Flats' in the group areas act.-an act which separated people on the basis of their color.

In the years to follow the Cape Flats became the perfect breeding ground for drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence, gangsterism, unemployment and other social ills all resulting from factors such as sub-standard education and the Tot system. The tot system or 'dop' (referring to an alcoholic drink) system used as early as the seventh century where European settlers would pay farm workers with alcohol. This created alcohol dependency amongst the farm workers, making them ever more dependent on their jobs despite lack of pay as their jobs fueled their addiction.

The situation in The Cape Flats at this moment in time is alarming as rival gangs and drug dealers battle it out amongst each other and innocent victims get caught in the crossfire. The area of Manenberg, a township in the Cape Flats has come under the spotlight as 14 schools were closed down by government for 2 days to protect children from being caught in the middle of a gang war. 

As the residence cry out for help, begging the government to deploy the army to bring order, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa stated that deploying the army would not address the causes of gangsterism and drug abuse.  

"Gangsterism is a deep-seated legacy of more than 200 years, and the Western Cape as a whole has various hot-spot areas that cut across different communities and races," he said. "Our crime analysis indicates that Manenberg, through intensive and integrated operations, has been showing signs of stabilisation over the last three months."

Although this is true, it begs the questions, 'Where does that leave the innocent'? and 'What is the government's plan to address the causes of gangsterism'? Though these questions are not simple ones to answer, what we do know for certain is that whatever has been done up until now is not working. 

There are many theories as to what needs to be done, and there are also many fingers being pointed as blame gets shifted from one group to the other. The fact however remains that, if there is to be any real solution to the problem of gangsterism on the Cape Flats, the change needs to start in the hearts and minds of the people - not just in the gangsters but  the politicians and in the bystanders as well. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the plights of those living in the Cape Flats.

Paradise cannot be a paradise, if it is not a paradise for all



+1 #1 Stefania Elena 2013-08-27 21:40
Excellent article

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