A surge in gang violence has prompted education officials in South Africa’s Western Cape Province to close 16 schools for two days:
At least 50 people are reported to have been wounded or killed after being shot in areas of Cape Town’s Manenberg suburb in recent weeks.
Provincial Premier Helen Zille has asked the national government to send in the army to help overwhelmed police.
A caretaker at one of the schools died after being shot a number of weeks ago.
An older story describes the situation in Cape Flats:
The Cape Flats, just outside scenic Cape Town, is South Africa’s gang capital, with around 150 gangs and an estimated 100,000 members, according to officials.
The area has known decades of violence and bloodshed at the hands of gangs battling for control of the drugs trade.
Local police say 15 people have been killed in crossfire during recent clashes between the notorious Junky Funky Kids and the Corner Boys gangs in Lavender Hill, in the Cape Flats.
Cape Town police chief Rob Young says gangsters and the drugs they peddle are responsible for about 80% of crime here.
Now, vigilante group People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad), declared a terrorist organisation in 2000 by the local government, says it is once more taking matters into its own hands.
The Muslim-dominated group hit the headlines in 1996 when Rashaad Staggie, co-leader of one of South Africa’s most notorious criminal gangs — the Hard Livings — was shot and then burnt to death by Pagad members.
Pagad’s armed security unit G-Force was then implicated in a 1998 blast at Cape Town’s Planet Hollywood restaurant — popular among tourists.
More than 20 people were injured and one woman was killed but no-one has ever been convicted.
Apartheid’s end has made things worse — according to the BBC:
As South Africa opened up after all-race elections in 1994, the drug trade in particular boomed, providing a cash boost to the gangs that control it.
The reform of apartheid’s brutal policing and legal system has made it easier for gangs to get guns and more difficult for police to act decisively against them.
The BBC reporter lent a recovered addict some video equipment to help with their documentary. He was one of the local street-football program’s success stories:
On his third trip to film for us, Martin disappeared for nine days. He had sold the camera equipment we loaned him and spent the money on an epic drugs binge that led to his arrest.
So, was the journalist that naive, or did he get the dramatic story he wanted for the price of some outdated electronics?