UK & World News
Running With Cape Town's Murderous Drug Gangs
Troops may soon be sent in to try to sort out the gang warfare in the South African city of Cape Town.
The country's largest trade union group (COSATU) and the premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, have recently both sent letters to South African president Jacob Zuma, calling for intervention to sort out the problem.
The president's office has said he will take advice from the police on the ground. Soldiers were sent into certain targeted hotspots last December apparently improving safety levels dramatically.
The latest calls come at a time when the violence between gangs appears to be increasing.
More than two dozen people have been killed in the past few months after being caught up in the fighting between the rival gangs.
There was talk of a "truce" between certain gangs but according to those Sky News spoke to there is fighting virtually every night.
The Sky News team managed to gain access to one of the gangs and was given an extraordinary insight into the underbelly of one of South Africa's most beautiful cities.
We met a group of about 20 men ranging in age from early 20s to early 60s in the Lavender Hill area of the Cape Flats (as the region is known to the locals).
They told us they were members of "the Americans" - a gang they said had about 100 members.
"Once you are a member, you are in it for life," Nash told Sky News.
"There's no way out."
All the men were out of work. Many had already been in prison, some several times, and they confessed to robbing, mugging and killing to buy food or to feed their drug habit.
"This is tik," Ringo explained to Sky News.
"It's crystal meth and we have to have our tik every day. If we don't get it, we get very aggressive.
"But with tic, we can do anything. I would kill Eyes (the gang's leader) and not even worry about it."
The gang crushed tablets of Mandrax, mixing it with cannabis and smoked the mixture through a broken head of a bottle.
Others heated up the crystal meth in a pipe before drawing on it deeply.
The effect on some of them was immediate and dramatic. More than one slumped and had to be caught by fellow members after taking long drags on their "pipes".
"He's hurting, he's hurting," they squealed as they saw the drugs hit the spot.
We went with the gang as the men tried to hunt down a rival gang member who they said had stolen one of their bikes.
They bolted out of the vehicle they were in and headed for the rival's front door, banging on the windows and door while Nash scrambled up and over the garden wall. He wasn't in.
"What would you have done if he'd been there?" I asked Eyes.
"We would ask him to give back our bikes and if he didn't do that, we would have beaten him until he did," he replied.
The gang has a strict hierarchy with Eyes as the commander and Ringo as his deputy.
The elders of the gang are known as the White House and the "fighters" are called the Pentagon.
Each of them is branded with the letters USA or other American symbols once they are accepted in the group.
To be accepted, the potential member is asked to "spill blood" to show their loyalty to the gang by performing a given task.
"It might be robbing or taking revenge ... whatever we decide," said Nash.
Mobile phone footage Sky News obtained showed what the authorities were up against.
It is broad daylight and a few small human figures are seen running up stairs and criss-crossing between homes as the sound of multiple shooting goes on for several minutes.
There are no police in sight at all.
It is debatable whether deploying troops would actually end the gang culture so rampant in the Cape Flats.
It may curtail the gang activities but our evidence indicates gangs are a way of life in an area where unemployment is high and hope is exceedingly low among this group.