While hospitals in Cape Town are reporting fewer gang-related casualties, gangsters are continuing with their illicit activities and, according to Manenberg residents, it is 'business as usual'.
Having had time to regroup, recruit and expand their reach in communities, there is a strong likelihood that bloody turf wars between gangs will flare up again once the COVID-19 lockdown begins to ease, and police and soldiers are redeployed elsewhere.
Alleged gang members in an area of Manenberg known to be the turf of the Americans gang.
A man passes through an area controlled by a gang called The Jesters.
Gangs are capitalizing on the immense poverty, lack of access to social services and high levels of unemployment in Manenberg where more than 70% of residents do not have work.
'Gangs know people in Manenberg are uneducated. They live for the moment. As long as they can get food now, they don’t care about what gangs will expect from them tomorrow', said a police officer who works in the community.
Self isolation is extremely difficult in the cramped living conditions of Manenberg. Only a minority of residents have access to mask.
The lockdown has led to severe food shortages on parts of the Cape Flats. Community activists have banded together to aid the most vulnerable.
Veteran community activist Roegchanda Pascoe and the Manenberg Safety Forum are among the groups that have spearheaded efforts to help those in need.
At the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, they established a feeding scheme intended to provide meals to 2 000 residents in Manenberg. The initiative has grown by leaps and bounds. Now it provides a meal to 4 100 people every day.