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'It's not about gangs, it's about a society that is hurting'

As violence continues on the Cape Flats more than three weeks after the army moved in, Gang Town author Don Pinnock's written an article that says the deployment has been too little, too late.

"When the apartheid government decided to evict people it called Coloured from Cape Town’s inner city", it reads, "it set off a chain reaction that now requires military intervention."

The criminologist and research fellow at the University of Cape Town (UCT) joins CapeTalk's Africa Melane to discuss the genesis of gang culture.

RELATED: W Cape SANDF deployment - Crime deterrent or a case of 'hell might break loose'?

Pinnock believes it's only through understanding the underpinnings of the situation - like the dissolution of the family - that solutions can be worked out.

He shares what he learned during his research into the family life and culture of District Six, adding that the damage done during apartheid has continued since 1994.

People had a place in the world. They were recognised as people in the community and Group Areas removals and all that has followed has led to a dissolution of respect and acknowledgement of who you are in a community.

Don Pinnock, Criminologist and research fellow - UCT

Gangs have been getting together as surrogate families.

Don Pinnock, Criminologist and research fellow - UCT

Mothers are struggling to hold families together, but they have to work.

Don Pinnock, Criminologist and research fellow - UCT

Adding poor education and joblessness to the mix, Pinnock says South Africa is failing its young people.

We are violating the rights of young people continuously They should have a safe place to grow up in, a decent education, they should have a right to jobs.

Don Pinnock, Criminologist and research fellow - UCT

At last count there were 350 000 young people under the age of 25 in the streets of Cape Town who were not in education, school or training... What is their income stream? How are they managing to get their cell phones?

Don Pinnock, Criminologist and research fellow - UCT

The army is mopping up water when it should be turning off the tap and it can't turn off that tap. The whole society needs to turn off that tap.

Don Pinnock, Criminologist and research fellow - UCT

What really concerns me is what I would call the Brazil option - where eventually the army can't leave, where the situation has got so volatile that there is literally a localised civil war going on between organised groups with guns on both sides.

Don Pinnock, Criminologist and research fellow - UCT

Kinnock does acknowledge the work communities themselves are doing to pull together.

I'm heartened by what people do, under fire, virtually... The society in general should do everything it can to support that kind of move.

Don Pinnock, Criminologist and research fellow - UCT

For more from Pinnock, take a listen:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'It's not about gangs, it's about a society that is hurting'


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