Book Review: Don Pinnock, Gang Town, Cape Town, Tafelberg, 2016.


  • Elrena van der Spuy Centre of Criminology, University of Cape Town



Gangs, Crime, Organised Crime, Cape Town


Gang Town, so promises the back leaf, ‘tells a tale of two cities’. The front cover juxtaposes the two cities – Cape Town and Gang Town. The outline of Table Mountain beckons in the distance. Superimposed onto that world heritage emblem of the city is the body of a young man. A crude tattoo is visible on his naked torso. The arms of the body are stretched outward. The hands clasp a handgun.  The torso, the tattoo and handgun signify ‘the gangster’. He hails from Gang Town. The gangster-subject is not without agency. The body is tilted in anticipation of the deadly velocity of the gun.  But that agency, we know, is painfully circumscribed by the debilitating conditions of social exclusion that characterise Gang Town. So it is with anticipation that one turns to Pinnock’s account of the interplay between structure and agency and gangs. 


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D Pinnock, The Brotherhoods: Street Gangs and State Control in Cape Town, Cape Town: David Philip, 1982.

D Pinnock, Gang Rituals and Rites of Passage, Cape Town: African Sun Press with the Institute of Criminology, University of Cape Town, 1997.

C Van Onselen, Studies in the Social and Economic History of the Witwatersrand, 1886-1914. New Nineveh, Johannesburg: Raven Press, 1982;

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P Sefali, Gang violence in Khayelitsha. Safety and Violence Initiative, University of Cape Town, 2014.

D P Moynihan, The Negro family: The case for national action, Washington, DC: Office of Policy Planning and Research, U.S. Department of Labor,1965.

B Morgan and D Posel, Humanities Meets Biology, HUMA: University of Cape Town.,Unpublished manuscript, 2015.

M Daly and M Wilson, Homicide, New York: Aldine De Gruyter, 1988.

T R Samara, Cape Town after Apartheid: Crime and Governance in the Divided City, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2011






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