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Gangs ‘feeling the pinch’, says activist

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A recent resurgence of gang violence on the Cape Flats may be related to the release of prominent gang leaders, according to Safe Manenberg Campaign project co-ordinator Waheed Sookool.

Sookool on Tuesday said Manenberg has been divided up into areas outside of the law that resembles feudal era systems. He says gangs that control certain portions of the suburb now demand taxi drivers, pedestrians and others to pay a toll to travel through their area safely.

“There is speculation that [this] comes from the fact that certain people have been released from prison with old squabbles and grudges to level. At the same time other, newer, gangs are trying to consolidate their position against the [older] established street gangs, like the Americans. Hard Livings … and others,” Sookool explained.

He says, however, that gathering intelligence from gangs is a monumental task, because of the secretive nature of their structures. Sookool believes because of this gang actions cannot be predicted often.

“They are secretive … and use subterfuge, so it’s my view that there is definitely some form of consolidation happening. But whether or not this is coming from prison gangs through leaders that are on parole in Manenberg, and whether they are vying for that space, one really cannot tell.”

But he believes that certain rumours may be true, that the recent violence is there to eradicate the fluid nature of power sharing between smaller street gangs that appeared when bosses from larger gangs in the area were incarcerated.

Sookool also stressed the influence joblessness and poverty has on the landscape of the Cape Flats, an area historically financially deprived and crime ridden. In turn, gangs and their drug and illicit goods market may be under economic pressure as their buying market dwindles.

“Even the gangs are feeling the pinch, their market is less lucrative than it was before, there’s not as much money going around. There is definitely economics involved in this, the taxes they put on taxis and residents are low as the [internal] economy of the area suffers.” VOC


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