Cape Town is two cities.
One is beautiful beyond imagining, known since its beginning as the 'fairest cape' in the world. Here tourists come to lounge on beaches, scale misty peaks and dine in fine restaurants. The other is one of the most dangerous cities in the world, where police need bullet-proof vests and sometimes army backup. Here gangs of young men rule the night with heavy calibre handguns, dispensing heroin, cocaine, crystal meth and fear. This is a story of the second city...
In Gang Town, investigative journalist and criminologist Don Pinnock draws on more than thirty years of research to provide a nuanced and definitive portrait of youngsters caught up in violent crime.
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Review This Product
Brilliant book that every Capetonian should read!
Thu, 27 Jul 2017 | Review by: Elma D
Don Pinnock traces the history of the gangs back to District Six. The book makes a convincing argument for focusing on the first thousand days to prevent young people at risk ending up in gangs. (Read more about first 1000 days at
Some of my favourite quotes from the book:
“For life-course persistent delinquents, development may have been disrupted from the beginning by prenatal damage and deprivation of nutrition, stimulation, prenatal attachment and affection... Such children are reared in families whose members amplify disadvantage through haphazard prenatal care, drug use during pregnancy and neglected nutritional needs. These may inadvertently provide their children with criminogenic environments.”
“There is no greater injustice than for a child to be unloved. Lack of love and care, therefore, is one of the keys to an understanding of the gravitational pull of gangs. A large number of young people in gangs are, therefore, simply unloved and in search of a family.”
“When young people feel affirmed, respected and loved, they are much less likely to turn to violence. So one of the solutions to both gangs and violence is to ensure the safety of young people at home, at school and in their neighbourhoods. Unless we do this, if we fail to eliminate poor parenting, prejudice and massive disparities of wealth, South Africa will continue to be a very violent society.”
He has strong words to say about the “war on drugs”, describing drug abuse as “a symptom, not a cause, of something else – personal social maladjustment.”
“Focusing on drugs and their marketing masks the root of the problem – early childhood deprivation and the environment which triggers drug over-use. The driver is the need young addicts have for the love and emotional support they have been denied. Addiction, in these terms, is a family and neighbourhood malfunction of which excessive drug use is a symptom. The solution, therefore, lies in support for early family bonding and not a War on Drugs.”
He also has strong words about the education system and calls for an education rethink.
The book ends on a hopeful note.
“This book outlines the beginnings of a new map for dealing with gangs. For any value to come of it, we need to remember that all social systems are human constructs – essentially, in the words of the historian Yuval Harari, they are an imagined reality. If it’s imagined, we can re-imagine it in a different way. We can change what is not right – but we need to want to.”
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