Cape Town Slums

Map and Story of Cape Town Gangs and Slums

Although the existence of South African and Cape Town gangs can be traced back to the early 1900s, it was during the 1970s that modern-day gangs emerged in Cape Town slums such as the Cape Flats, as well in other cities across the country. These gangs often originated within the prison walls before spreading their influence to the streets, thereby contributing to some of South Africa’s most perilous communities worldwide.

It is worth noting that the epicenter of gang-related activities in Cape Town primarily lies within the communities situated on the Cape Flats. The Cape Flats, a vast region, has gained notoriety due to its association with neighborhoods such as Mitchell Plains, Philippi, Elsies River, Nyanga, Delft, Bishop Lavis, Khayelitsha and several other areas that have historically been part of the impoverished districts in Cape Town.

In the Cape Flats area, numerous Cape Town gangs have been involved in fierce territorial conflicts. The primary instigators are often individuals belonging to the likes of the Hard Livings, SexBoys, Mongrels, Americans, 28s, Junky Funky Kids, Rude Boys, Dixie Boys, or the Ghetto Kids, just to name a few.

Map of Cape Town Slums and Neighborhoods

*The map will receive regular updates with new additions. Each highlighted neighborhood features multiple illustrations showcasing the community outlined.*

History of Cape Town Gangs and Slums

In the era of South Africa’s apartheid, when the city was entirely governed by white individuals, numerous Africans were compelled to leave their residences and communities. They were relocated to designated regions such as the Cape Flats, a consequence of the Group Areas Act which permitted the confiscation of people’s land. This forced displacement resulted in societal disarray and a loss of essential elements like structure, foundation, culture, and stability. The disenfranchisement caused poverty and limited access to resources.

cape town slums

Aerial view of the Cape Town slums located in Western Cape, known as the Cape Flats.  Editorial Credit: fivepointsix /

The conclusion of apartheid, a period marked by prejudice and racial inequality, did not automatically improve the lives of all individuals. The circumstances for many did not significantly change after South Africa’s white regime came to an end. Over time, the communities that were established during apartheid in the Cape Flats region became hotspots for criminal activities and other unsavory actions. A visit to these Cape Town slums reveals a region lacking in resources and facing numerous challenges.

Cape Town Slums of Today

The prevalence of poverty plays a significant role in the rise of violence and gang involvement, particularly within Cape Town’s impoverished areas such as the Cape Flats. These regions have become hubs for Cape Town gangs, who take advantage of their proximity to Africa’s largest ports in order to establish extensive drug markets. In addition to trafficking drugs, these gangs engage in various other illegal activities on the streets.

cape town gangs

Editorial Credit: meunierd /

Presently, the Cape Flats communities in Cape Town accommodate a substantial population, with numerous residents living in conditions characterized by extreme poverty and high crime rates. This area experiences alarming levels of violence, resulting in hundreds of homicides each year, surpassing those seen in many major cities worldwide.

Despite increased government efforts to combat Cape Town gangs, such as military patrols, stricter legislation, and the implementation of programs by both governmental and non-profit organizations to address issues within Cape Town slums, the problem of street and gang activity remains.

cape town slums south africa gangs cape town gangs south africa slums

Dirk.D.Theron /

Overall, apartheid played a significant role in reshaping various South African communities. It almost seems as though the impoverished and gang-ridden communities we see today were intentionally created. While gang activity has existed for generations, with each passing decade, Cape Town gangs have expanded their presence. In some instances, local authorities choose to ignore these activities unless they directly impact more privileged neighborhoods.

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