200 Murders in 21 Days in South Africa’s Cape Flats

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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What You Need to Know: 

At least 200 people have been killed in a three-week period in South Africa’s notorious Cape Flats. Civil Society group Action Society SA has decried the lack of a police response, with its Public Safety Consultant Ian Cameron stating on X, “Close to 200 people murdered in the Cape Flats alone in the last 2-3 weeks with ZERO response from the minister of police or justice. Politicking in the international arena but for South Africans there is nothing. Disgusting to say the least. The state has turned its back on its own people.” 

According to Action Society SA, at least seven people under the age of eighteen have been shot since Monday, with two dying from their injuries and a fourteen year old-girl in critical condition after being shot in the head. The shootings took place between Mitchells Plain and Elsies, two hotspots for gang crime. 

Many children injured or killed in shootings in the Cape Flats are not targets themselves but fall victim to stray bullets. 

The Details:

The communities which span the Cape Flats have been labeled as some of the most dangerous areas in South Africa, with locals referring to these areas as ‘no-go zones’. This is due to extreme levels of poverty, high levels of gang membership, proximity to Nigerian and Congolese gangs, and the free flow of high powered weapons through established gun smuggling routes. 

In 2019, the national army was deployed to the Cape Flats after 73 murders were committed in a single weekend in May. However, the violence returned upon the army’s departure. 

Academics estimate the existence of around 100,000 gang members affiliated to 130 different gangs in the Cape Flats alone, with the city of Cape Town home to a population of just 4 million. 

Gun battles in broad daylight are not uncommon in these areas, particularly between the flats’ most established gangs– the Americans, the Hard Livings, and the Junky Funky Kids (JKF). 


Adding to the problem is the police’s involvement in the gun smuggling trade, with Colonel Christiaan Prinsloo of the South African Police convicted in 2016 on ‘20 charges ranging from racketeering, corruption and money laundering relating to the smuggling and dealing in lethal weapons worth around R9 million with Cape Town gangsters.’

Prinsloo’s conviction came after the family members of those killed by ‘Prinsloo guns’ began a class action lawsuit against Prinsloo and the South African Police.