These pictures are the result of a deep and long research about the situation of the coloured gangs of Cape Town, South Africa. All the images I took are the consequences of the long time I spent with many of the members of different gangs. I roamed around more than twenties coloured areas around Cape Town, knowing lots of people, gangster and not. After I built the confidence and the respect necessary to be part of that world, I was a witness of the constant struggle for power and survival in the ghettos.
Apartheid was officially abolished by South Africa in the early 1990s, but the lingering effects of racial segregation can still be seen in Cape Flats, a violent, gang-infested area of Cape Town. The 1966 was the year in which the racial segregation laws caused District Six and other areas of the center of the town expropriated and declared as "whites only areas". Since that time gangs started to organized themselves as an order operating outside of the State, founded on “values” such as violence, power, alchool and drug abuse, rebuilding their own identity on specific codes of honour inside illegal networks. In the flats violence is learned very early, at the beginning as emulation while playing, then as a direct behavior on the school desks. The local logic is cruel: each flats block is governed by a gang, and young people are soon brought to mislead opposite feelings, to coexist with hate and friendship: classmates during the day, outside the school they come back to their different flats, often “forts” of their opposite gangs. The gangs phenomenon is in constant growth, especially the traffic of drugs feeds diffusion and popularity of these illegal orders. The gangs movement is considered as a culture among the coloured communities, a committed ideology, with hierarchies of power and strength internal and external, implicit or evident, often impressed on their own skin, and imperative codes of honour. Breaking any rule of this system could be fatal.