[imagesource: Esa Alexander]
Solomon was one of six gang members to receive the maximum sentence, and a second trial due to start soon will see a further 20 members face trial in the Western Cape High Court.
When you consider that the gang has an estimated 10 000 members dotted around the Western Cape, the full scale of the problem becomes a little clearer.
Speaking with TimesLIVE’s Aron Hyman, Ceasefire gang violence intervention programme director Craven Engel pointed out that in tough times, gang recruitment is made easier, with children hungry and desperate falling victim to indoctrination:
“For the gangs it’s easy. Guys going to go buy a Gatsby [sandwich] come along. You haven’t even been with them for two days, and when you open your eyes, they’ve indoctrinated you, and they put a small tattoo on your arm with the gang initials and say, you’re with us now. You think it’s cool. Every day you go and get something to eat with them,” said Engel.
Engel said designer clothes were second on the hierarchy of children’s needs in poor communities like Delft – another benefit of joining a gang. Delft’s schools are incubators of the gang culture.
Some of the statistics Craven raises are scarcely believable. In the Southern Suburbs, jolling at Tinners is the most dangerous thing a schoolkid can do, but it’s a completely different reality in gang hotspots.
For example, in Hanover Park, a child is likely to hear around 350 gunshots per month, which can desensitise one to violence, and gangs actively recruit in school environments.
In some cases, gang members can only leave if they do a ‘write-off’, which is when you promise your son, nephew, or relative will take your place in the gang.
Sometimes, the person offered can be as young as five or six years old.
Here’s reformed gang member Albert Matthews:
“When you are a kid earmarked for recruitment by a certain gang, you are going to have a very tough time at school. You either make the choice that you won’t give in, but it’s going to be a challenging time for you because they’ll take your schoolbooks, you will be beaten up, they will bully you severely. Then you have the option to give in, and if your parents can, they’ll make the choice to take you out and put you into a different school,” said Matthews.
Whilst the community of Delft is elated that Solomon and other top-ranking gang members have been sentenced, turf wars are said to have escalated in the area, as rival gangs look to take over areas previously controlled by the Terrible Josters.
This has led to an escalation of gun violence in the area, not dissimilar to what happens when a cartel kingpin like Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán is removed.
You can read the full TimesLIVE article here.
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