Raw transcript of the Jeremy Vearey interview

by Nov 18, 2013Amandla Issue 32, Magazine

Interview with Jeremy Vearey, Major-general in SAPS.

A!: Maybe you’d like to introduce yourself and your capacity.

JV: I am Jeremy Vearey. I am also a Major-general in the police service. I am responsible for the gangster activity in this province. I’ll go into what that distinctly is different from the way where we normally do. Apart from that I think in the interview it will become clear that I have a totally different perspective from what you officially would see that primarily comes from my Marxist part, as a Marxist within the ANC, the ANC tradition and particularly within the Western Cape, coming from also initially before uMkhonto weSizwe particularly involved in the civic movement and the youth movement in Elsies River – and so I come from a totally different background.

My parents were activists, who are deceased now. My mother was part of that shift from the old SACTU to form the SACTU with Patel. And she wasn’t ANC, she had Trotsky approach while my father was more of a Congress chap; he ended up being an alderman, one of the first counsellors for the ANC in the Theewaterskloof region in Genadendal area. So that’s the kind of background – so when I speak so that you just understand that that’s the first thing. Secondly, when I do speak to you hear, I would as far as possible, the fact that I’m a police officer is anecdotal to what I’m going to tell you, it’s not the defining thing and I one would not want it to be projected that are speaking to a person and you define the person as a general police and that’s it, based [indistinct]. So that is the type of thing I think just to tell you that is the background. I am in my fifties, I’m fifty-years-old so I’ve been around.

A!: Can you start with the, come from the political background where you were.

JV: Yes, yes, initially if you understand my political history in Elsies River, Elsies River in the time I grew up, the dominant trend in the late ’70s early ’80s was and that’s understandable we had guys like Peter Isaacs and all those guys who were staying [indistinct]. The predominant influences was BC. It is only during the time when early ’80s when Johnny Issel as part of his banning ended up living in Elsies River that the tradition sort of shifted and more Congress influence came in, and in with the formation of CAHAC, CAYCO and all those organisations it became much more pronounced. And during that time the start of CAHAC and all those kind of sub-structures within that area it became a much -. But the identity and history of what shaped people particularly is not necessarily [the coalface/what carves this – unclear] – that’s what I want you to understand clearly. It is also distinctly left but there was not a strong Unity Movement present; so all my teachers were Unity Movement, John Ramsey in Elsies River and all those kinds of things. So those were the teachers and all those guys. But that was the type of environment. So I didn’t have a definitive organisational identity with them.

1983 I was recruited into uMkhonto weSizwe but that had to do with a different process, with a process that exposed me to certain figures who were active therefore interested in my involvement was much more clandestine. So I ended up in ’87 getting caught, going to Robben Island. I was a teacher also at some point in ’85 in Elsies River and I got involved with the type of alternative education work that Neville Alexander was involved at South African Council. It involved taking subjects like geography and translated it into an analysis of urban transformation and development on the Cape Flats from a Marxist perspective. One of the founding members with [Gabru – sounds like] [A!: Yusuf] Jean and them and those people of WECTU. So there’s no sectarian clear line – that’s what I’m trying to say. On the positive side it’s partly why myself and a few others, even on Robben Island when we were there, we were able to represent more of the critical left although we ended up in the SACP, but it was more of a critical left with, there was a counter to the kind of misunderstandings of organisation and those things. So we had a totally different way of looking at things. The advantage of the mass background as opposed to the insular Party underground structure, we were being exposed to Marxist thinking is that one’s understanding of the way one relates to mobilisation and to civil society was much more Gramsci in a way as opposed to distinctly Lenin or Party, a structuralist kind of model. So that’s the one advantage I think that comes with that. But I think the second thing was that one’s approach to the readings that one read was much more eclectic. If you were in the Party we’d probably only be exposed to Lenin. We were widely exposed in Elsies to Healey’s writings and fourth internationale literature like Mandel to stuff, people like David Harvey. Something a normal Leninist would be derided for– that’s what I’m trying to get to. So we had a much more wider thing as a result of that, it was the benefit.

A!: When did you start getting involved in the SAPS?

JV: I integrated into the SAPS. After I came out of prison, I was released in June 1990, I was immediately absorbed into the ANC’s intelligence structures. I had intelligence training and all those kinds of things too. I am trained detective, intelligence officer and intelligence instructor, VIP protection officer. So I was absorbed immediately into that and I ended up basically doing that all over the country, [in addition to – sounds like] the ID protection of certain ANC leadership figures but most of my work involved intelligence and security related .We at DISC

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But in the process at a crucial time when the organisation and the irony is to [indistinct] Margaret Thatcher is through then trying to influence policy or security [indistinct] tried to approach the ANC to say that we need some your people and we can train them in that environment and Canada also wanted and the States. And the irony was they needed cadres who would not be swayed by that type of agenda, who were more ideologically grounded, if I should put it that way, in left to be pressed by all the trappings of that. So I was part of this group of cadreship. Some of us went to France and some went to [Germany – possible unfinished word] and I ended up in the UK, sort of [indistinct]. But I ended up with them and we spent time training there. I ended up also being sent to Canada and certain places to research different policing models from the west because our understanding of policing was primarily influenced by [however the ANC works/whatever the ANC wants – unclear]. So that was the type of tradition of policing. This is a totally different approach in some cases. So that’s essentially how it comes to that point.

A!: Over this period you must have been exposed to a variety of different influences which probably influenced you analysis now, both your own upbringing in Elsies River, the ANC, the period in Robben Island and your own period in SACP afterwards; so I’m just going to bring this interview towards focusing in Cape Town. So Andre and myself have thinking about sort of almost categorising different phases of gangsterism in Cape Town over the last 20-30 years and we’d be very interested to hear your -.

JV: It’s 200 [indistinct].

A!: We’re wondering what your perspective of -. As we’ve got it with the analysis that we have, an understanding that there’s one period of gangsterism, what happens after the ’70s and people get relocated all over the Cape Flats and the emergence of the first wave of gangs which emerged there. And then we get into the ’80s and people start making a bit more money off drugs and gangs such as the Hard Livings and the Americans start to gain power in certain areas. And as far as we can see this changes and gets a lot bigger as cocaine and crack start to get into the streets beyond just Mandrax and dagga which were the sort of primary drugs before. And then later whatever structure developed around cocaine and crack changed as a generation of gang leaders like the Staggies and Colin Stanfield* and all these guys get either assassinated or end up in jail. And then tik hits Cape Town and changes the face of gangsterism. It would be quite interesting to get your perspective.

JV: That will be the symptomatic way of looking at things. But let me first deal with the way I usually [cross-talk indistinct]. Let’s start with one of the key strands that is consistent over a hundred-and-odd years in gangs in this province and nationally. It is a Numbers gang and where they come from: 28s, 26s, 27s. Now those formations in the late 1800s was formed out of surplus labour for labour reserves, feeding the mines on the East Rand and in KwaZulu-Natal in particular, the coal mines. At that time a lot of those surplus labourers were between the rural areas and the urban mining compounds; banded together because they had no formal residential status, banded together and lived in the mountains and they operated as bandits. The first such formation, they called themselves Umkhosi Wezintaba — the Regiment of the Hills. They style themselves along the British army type of thing and a bit of the Anglo-Boer die generaal in later years, that’s only later. But this group of [lumpin – sounds like] or surplus labourers that moved around around started attacking certain farms in the neighbouring area as a means to sustain their livelihoods as a collective – that’s the first important thing to understand. They also were involved in robberies of mine workers and mining personnel who were travelling, especially miners who were travelling between home at that time for the festive season or whenever they need to be at home, and also mining officials. So the whole folklore was tied up of these gangs. They called themselves Umkhosi Wezintaba. In the late 1800s under the leadership of a chap called Jan Note, Mzuzephi Mathebula who later becomes known as Nongoloza. This man led and his philosophy was that you don’t go work for the colonialists, we will survive on our own and this is the way we survive. So it came from a politicisation of certain class issues – and so that’s the first thing that we need to understand. So their philosophy of [roof and plunder – sounds like] in the 28s, like the 26s [indistinct], your mind, it’s a philosophy that comes, it’s rooted in those particular issues. They also saw themselves as hitting against the laws that were oppressing them in that time. That’s hence today it is no coincidence that you hear 28s being referred to as [bed slams – sounds like], it comes from the root in that philosophy.

However, because they were essentially in the then Transvaal and Natal environment, in the Anglo-Boer war period, a lot of them were also bounded into the concentration camps. That made them form an identity around the prison. And then the shifted their name from Umkhosi Wezintaba to People of the Stone, which is now People [indistinct], the prison notion. They were put in Cinderella Prison and all these type of prisons up there in Barberton. So then they adopted that particular type of identity in prison as they were encamped and put in and those things. After the Boer war, after the English concentration camps they were just let out again and the same type of phenomena then emerged. But what was distinct after the war, exploiting the vulnerability of the security lax confusion, a lot of their robberies from robbing people on their way back and officials outside, they started targeting the mining compounds and hitting safes – so in other words the mines became the enemy in a very structured and targeted way.

And as a result of attacks on the mines, the coal mines in Newcastle and particularly large band attacks where there was recorded shootouts between mining officials and them and resulting in death both ways – they became a big band – and as a result of that the then Transvaal commissioner of police issued a statement, wrote to the Cape colonial authorities and said we must clamp down on that. And that is when a new period shifted. So between the period after the war, we’re talking about 1899-1900s now well into 1930 period there’s a declaration then from the Cape and the Transvaal that we must incarcerate all of them. By then they had infiltrated the mining compound; they had been quite deep into this. And a lot of them were sent to Cinderella Prison, to Point Road Prison in Durban. That’s significant because in prison folklore they talk about the Point. When they talk about the Point they talk about this and the significance of this period in history when they were in the Point Road Prison. They were taken to Barberton, Cinderella Prison up there. These prisons don’t exist anymore so you have to think about the [indistinct] of the time, hard-labour type of prison.

It is in those prisons that they then formed the identities of 28, 27, 26 – so they transformed into those names. People 26 who would specialise in smuggling, ensuring that there is a constant supply of goods, whatever luxuries to the big cats; 28s who would see that there is order and laws and also had a practice of izinkotshane which is the maintaining of wives and all those kind of things in terms of the code of the Number – they adopted that.

The 27 who were soldiers who were there to defend or whatever tax the system would have on them. The mapuza was the authority, prison officials, police officers, mining bosses, everyone. So that was the way they conceptualised, the way the saw the enemy back that.

The 26s were formed inside Point Road Prison in Durban itself. But what is distinctive about this gang that you should understand, the prison period of this gang in the early 1900s it’s one of non-racial because the philosophy was it didn’t matter where you come from culturally, under the Number you are something, you are reborn. You are reborn. There is only one thing that matters are the Number because it’s an all-encompassing philosophy. So that is how it grew. But they then felt up north when Scotland Yard at that time handled policing in South Africa: when it started seeing strategically that Mzuzephi Mathebula, Nongoloza was already incarcerated the 26s, Kilikijan of the 27 – they were all incarcerated. They started realising that these people are not a spent force and they’re restructuring quite powerfully inside prisons up north; they just made a decree in the colonial government authority to transfer them to the furtherest points of the country and that was the Cape.

A!: So this was [indistinct] resistance to break them -.

JV: Ja, to break them up within the different – to control. So they ended up in Simododium Prison which doesn’t exist anymore, Belleville Prison which doesn’t exist anymore, and Robben Island – all the key figures. Now that’s an important thing to understand. So this is how the Number spreads and that is why it became the force that it did. It wasn’t an ordinary criminal come together, we rob a place; it was actually a philosophy in itself. And when it was transplanted into prison, prison became the mapuzas, it got internalised here. So that it the type of culture that you should understand. Part of that is there was always a conflictual between the 26 and the 28 in the absence of 27 existing – because the 27 is a soldier who deals with the conflict between the two and if the 27 is not there they are bound to clash based purely on different interests. The 28 are about power, the power can only (be) exercised (if) the authority be bolstered by money – ‘n Spyker so hulle sê. The 26s are all about money and smuggling and their power, Kroon, is their life. So if you do not have regulatory presence of the 27 in the middle that mediates between these two, they are powerless. This is what you see outside and what you see in prisons.

A!: And it still maintains its non-racial character.

JV: It still maintains its non-racial character. The only people who weren’t allowed was whites. [Afrikaans van die boere]. But they were allowed post-1994.

A!: As recent as that.

JV: Yes and only as recently as that. And the Jali Commission Enquiry, there’s one particular sketch ] they asked me to translate what this guy (was saying) because I can speak Nyaza of the 28s and Shalanboom of the 26 There was a white major who the 26 gang who came to testify in Sabela, issued a direct threat on live television. At that time you know [Chris Cornele and Gayton McKenzie – sounds like] they were disposing. And those guy’s trial had to be postponed. And nobody could understand what happened in those guys didn’t want to explain. But it was the first sign of him and he had been a major and this is way in the 90s so they incorporated whites back then. So that is one part of it.

But apart from that gangs did not come to the Cape through the Number. But the time in the 1920s and and I suppose 1930 when all the Number people came via prison and there was an infusion with prisoners from here – gangs like the Globe gang in District Six, the Stalags, ’70s – they already existed. But even their history independently and even their history is uniquely tied to rentier capital in District Six. The property owners from Sea Point and all these kinds of places, the huge property owners could not collect rent in District Six, it was one of those zones that everybody had trouble with; similar to Sophiatown, similar to all these kind of other places. So whom they depended on was, and they got robbed if they come and collect rent. And eventually formations such as the Globe and the Staggies, the Globe gang is the Globe gang, emerged as collection agents. They would send people to rob them. You see, you want to [indistinct 48:36] in the Bloomhoof flats and the Globe controls the Bloomer flats. This is the early [1900s – sounds like] and those things. So you have to come in with that. So there was this relationship with rent and capital with that – so you had to go via the gang. So there was a symbiotic relationship between rentier capital in District Six, Woodstock, Salt River, all of those things, and the Globe gang. The Globe gang moved into other areas like if you wanted to open up a shop – whatever you did, gangs [indistinct] or something like that, it’s a kind of subtle, they are the security. But in response to them as I classic to any gangster [indistinct] in the Western Cape, whether it’s Elsies, there’s always a counter that emerges. A younger group – and in response to them gangs like the Stalags, like the first Sexy Boys that we spoke of started emerging among the younger type of generation. So those are totally different formations – but that formation that I’m talking about now, it’s similar to [Elders in later years, the Fazgans and Spounders – sounds like], for example. They’re independent of the emergence of the Number.

But the period of the ’50, it’s a period where you have more incarceration from all these people and then you then have the established interface with the Number. The point here is that the growth of the lumpenproletariat in District Six started out of a symbiotic relationship with rentier capital who owned property in District Six.

A!: Because [indistinct] talks about his youth in District Six of him being used to break up Communist Party [indistinct].

JV: Yes, they served the interests of firstly rentier capital but the Globe, not the others, the Globe was distinct that later he became a political tool to break up values and all those kind of things you’re going to approach these guys; quite the same thing that happened before the elections here with the the [Americans and the Mongrels and those things. They’re very, very much the same thing, so they’ve always been tied to politics; but now if you forget the politics the way the lumpensproletariat emerged in this country was a political process. It’s not not natural, it’s not like Joseph Silver history on London East End in the 1800s before he came to South Africa. It’s a different type of history. Here the coming together was determined by political lines and class lines. So that’s how you come to the two.

But when we’re in the ’70s everything inside is Number oriented. But the distinctive difference now is in the ’70s and the ’60 what was inside was inside and what was outside was outside, it didn’t mix the two. The [gangs of the ’80s with people like Jackie Lonte, Ernie Lastig, Colin Stanfield.

A!: Staggies.

JV: But before Staggie. Another one, Bobby Mongrel. Let’s go to the ’70s, let’s pitch it there – the time when you saw people fighting with pangas and all those kind of things. There are two things about that history of the ’60s and ’70s in terms of how politics influenced gangs that changes. The first thing is before the Group Areas Act when gangs were small, there were not own flats who were members of the Globe or the Sexy Boys; you saw four or five of them standing at the corner and that kind of thing. But what happened with the Group Areas Act, so those structures were at a youth level, maintained some [view – unclear] of cohesion and order. What happened with the breaking up of those communities also affected the gangs. Because now you’re transplanted wherever you are, whether it’s to Mitchells Plain, to Athlone – wherever you’re transplanting it you’re transplant the Number, it was already there you spread it but widely, laterally and you transplant it, gangs such as the Mongrels, that’s the other gang along District Six, the Mongrels came from District Six to Hannover Park[with Bobby. So that’s what you did literally. With the Group Areas Act you’ve just been transplanted; you have them a wider footprint organisationally; that’s the important thing. You also generated a lot more conflict because now opposing gangs came into camp.

A!: [indistinct] District Six and areas -.

JV: Now you had to disrupt it, now they have to contest again. It’s simple, it’s about income, it’s about the flow of money; money is tied to geographical space, to the shops you control, to the people who collection from and to the rentier class who pays you. If you take all of that out and you press people out of District Six to every corner of the Cape, they literally come there with nothing, so the war for control for carving out new space, new turf, new territory, because absolute. But the difference in the latter ’70 with Jackie is in the beginning in I don’t know if you know with the Mandrax trade first – let’s start with the Mandrax trade. In the early like of a Mandrax was something you crush as a tablet and you threw it in your Bols Brandy and then you drink. The differently with guys like Bobby and Colin and those cases, they marketed it into something you can smoke. Now if you want to hit Cape Town, it doesn’t have an injection culture of drug abuse, it has a smoking culture. So anything that you can smoke is going to hit you. So that’s when it started emerging and it was a such a dramatic effect in terms of its scale that it opened up new wars and the Cape Town Scorpions and the BFK started fighting – those bigger gangs. Note, you never had smaller gangs in the ’70s because of the spread; everybody came from one point [indistinct], so you had these massive formations of BFKs in (Mitchells) Plain, BFKs all over the place because they were very central in terms of that. The same with the Scorpions. So with that infrastructure it’s understandable why Mandrax became spread like it did. Similarly with cocaine; initially it was free-based by guys in Sea Point until Jackie, through some Americans that he knew, real Americans not the Cape Town ones, you can make this thing like this and crack it because it could be smoked. So that was the type of thing.

But it is the infrastructure of the gang, its total footprint that enables the rapid spread of it. It is not like people understand the presence of a single drug outlet. Most of the selling is on the street so you need Numbers to sell on all parts of the street. And there’s only one structure that affords you that Numbers – it’s a gang. And worst of all we’ve got chapters all over the place so it spreads instantly throughout in that way. So those are just some of the things.

So your ’70s period is a period of intense conflict – every time a new drug comes onto the market people are fighting for forms of control and all those kind of things. There’s also one distinctive feature about the ’80s. In the early ’80s and the ’70s you went to buy your drugs at a house. So the business was tied to the presence of property, once you technically talk about it that way. So spatial control in terms of key properties that access your consumer is important, it’s presence. So a lot of the fights, the attacks was on the houses that sell and the gang fights, those type of things to prevent customers from coming there because you’re too high-risk. So that was what the wars were about. But that shifted now in the ’90s when we started developing asset forfeiture laws and all those things, it started shifting later, let’s be a much more mobile phenomena and the gang structure was perfect for that because they could put street dealers] so as not to link the property to the actual [indistinct]. So that’s the one thing. I just want you to remember the change -.

A!: Pretty much covert.

JV: Ja, but covert depends on how open your eyes are. And I want to come to that, to the policing part of it. I’m just trying to sketch to you the different part of it. And But literally if I should put it to you this way, because I grew up in Elsies River and I at one stage was also a Sicilian. On a purely materialistic, not materialism in the Marxist sense of it but in the sense of consumerism, if I basically looked in the ’70s who drove the best cars, who wore the best clothes, who had access the best, labelled a gang – so being part of it became part of that particular process. If I needed to protect myself because I’m going to traverse the territory being a Sicilian is better – because nobody touches the Sicilian because we are not like a structured gang, we are school kids from Elswood, Ravensmead, Elsies River High and Lavers – and we are unpredictable, we are not governed by the Numbers and we don’t care who you are, we’ll deal with you. That was the type of context.

So the struggle in the gang world is a constant one between people who’re on set roads, the older chaps with the gang infrastructures and the newer chaps like us who were around like the Sicilians who start engaging people from a protectionist platform, band up against them. But eventually they discovered these guys make money so we’re taking them over, why don’t we take over everything. So it becomes that type of thing. So that is just the general sketch.

But coming to policing, whatever I am telling you now was never policed for two simple reasons. In the colonial period policing served the interests of narrowly protecting capital in the mine, not even petite bourgeoisie was okay – the mines. So a lot of Scotland Yard, a lot of British policy activity was around the mines, like in the then Rhodesia and or Nyasaland – it was about the police was there to protect the mines. As agricultural production became viable for export in the colonies to invest, policing was about protecting that. And if you literally historically mapped the presence of what we would now call police precincts then they are situated in a way to fulfil this much, which explain why prior to 1994 you have low resources in Mitchells Plain and all these kind of places and more resources in Camps Bay. So those are the type of things that you should first think – the geographical distribution of police was determined by the protection of capital.

A!: So there was virtually no investment in normal policing work

JV: No, no investment in detective work, in community policing. Gangs were seen as [grevelike kleurlinge en daardie geodes – sounds like]. It wasn’t tackled as a particular problem. Drugs was not even considered a serious issue back then. If you take Elsies River for example the police station was in Epping. [indistinct] as it was a barrier it was Ruiterwagt and the rest of Elsies River. That’s what it was about. Now the policing of Elsies River was more about Ruiterwagt and to prevent Elsies from coming to affect Ruiterwagt. Spatially that’s the way policing manifested itself in this country. It was more an instrument of social and political control rather than classical policing – and that’s why detectives were understaffed in these areas, that’s why they only had a visible policing capability really and the specialised investigations were kept to investigate what they called ‘white crimes.’

A!: In Hanover Park where I grew up in the ’70s, the cop station was in Landowne

JV: Yes, yes. It was not about the police station being a place that is a bastion of safety for the people around. There was the policeman being a place that is a fort for social control, political control. That is essentially what the feature of it was. And this continued right up until 1994. But I think that’s the important thing: so you’re not dealing, they history of putting -. Let’s take an example, the Hard Livings, it was formed in 1983 as it is now. The Staggie brothers had used gang formations long before that going back to the ’70s; he himself has a record that goes back to 1971.

A!: Diep River.

JV: Not a long record. But the formation of the Hard Livings in the form in which we understand it, it’s a phenomenon of of the ’80s – between the ’80s to around 1994 it grew into the power that it was. The Americans gang was formed in the mid-’80s. The Mongrels, they go even back further, they go back to District Six. None of what what we see here is new. In actual fact their growth unfettered occurred under apartheid. That’s when the careers of gangsters were shaped. So that’s the point I need you to understand: because policing was not focused, it’s only post-1994 when we start having things in the ’96 like the organised crime legislation that starts to look at crime in these areas as an organised phenomenon. Before that the understanding of organised crime was sophisticated mafia notions – which was nonsense. That was real organised crime what was happening there. So there was that type of thing that is important to understand.

In policing strategy in the birth under Fivaz it was all about still continuing the same things and maintaining the same thing. Until we came in in the ’95 period with a very clear agenda and our background, that firstly policing is not about the security of the state, it’s about the security of the people. Now that’s a fundamental mind shift because if you say it’s about the safety and security of the people, it means all our resources and how you put down your organisational footprint and your strategy, your eyes around protecting the people and serving their interests, that becomes the prime [indistinct]. And previously it was the state, so it was about fortifying the state through a means of social and political control, the policing exercise is to prevent the natives from getting restless, to put it like in the way colonial policing happens; the police function was to keep the natives from getting restless. So that was it was literally about.

This approach enforces a different -. And it’s only after Fivaz left that we really came to say, look, the first phase of now, we must ensure that there’s proper resourcing. That is when we stopped the building [indistinct] police, police sourcing certain stations more, built stations in Khayelitsha, expand the policing in Nyanga, built the Elsies River police station – that is all the new stations is the period of that particular type of thinking. The whole shift in resourcing in that direction and by no means are we there yet because we’re still sitting with the structural footprint of where the service is located in relation to an old apartheid model. There’s no way you can say Mitchells Plain police station is central to Mitchells Plain while most of the crime is in Tafelsig. Do you understand what I’m trying to get to? But that is the process we undertook. We are by no means there totally but I think coming back to the gang type of formation – so I already told you all these gangs were there, we inherited them, we found them outside and we found them there. It’s only through like the organised crime legislation and those types of things that we were able to track them. But I want to come to one distinct thing that reflects as different class [and it’s even – unclear] amongst the progressive police force. There is still from a class perspective different ways of policing different classes. This is from a class analysis, to me it’s tantamount to sometimes criminalising the poor. You know John Paton?

A!: yeah

JV: Ja, He describes his model best in a study we’ve done on American schools and the police. As taking that model it’s a type of model that we’ve got into we’re bound to be knocking heads with the metro police here where we’re not going onto schools in Mannenberg. So that is the first problem but that criminalises people. I’m referring to the criminalisation of American working class youth through the way youth at risk are policed at American schools. In Mitchells Plain where I refuse to search schools because what this type of policing does, it categorises people in general and it assumes that in order to get to the specific chap who’s a problem I need to just treat this big collective as the problem. So I go search the school. I go cordon off Mannenberg and search then from one part for drugs and guns. It sounds nice to militarists in policing and to some of the people in Camps Bay who want to know whether the police are doing something – all these very operationalised models of policing.

A!: And I’m sure if you went to the same school as all those kids in Camps Bay you would find tons of drugs too.

JV: I want to mention the classical case. You know the Merryweather case [

A!: Ja, that was actually my school.

JV: At some point they took me out of the gang world because they felt I needed some time in a totally opposite environment. So they put me to Claremont and it nearly killed me because I was bored in the first day. But in any case it [indistinct]. This happened to coincide the first few months when I was here with this Merryweather. And I was looking at the mother who came to collect the guys who’d left the scene, the fight the way it came up from the Cubana across from the garage. And I sat in the police meeting and I told them I have an experience of this, this is no different from what I see on the Cape Flats. And one of the people in meeting took me on and said, what am I talking about. And I said, if this had happened in the Cape Flats you would probably call it gangsterism. And why’s it any different because the boys are from Reddam and Merryweather is from Bishops -. What makes this thing quantitatively different? Secondly, they escaped from the scene with the support of the mother. He tried to attempt to defeat the ends of justice in terms of obstructing police investigations. There is absolutely no difference between that and what kids on the flats do do. But some of my other colleagues say we have a different way of doing it in Claremont. But what I’m trying to tell you, that type of approach is still prevalent in terms of different class distinctions. For example, the practice of there’s a lot of [indistinct] metro police stuff [indistinct] and all those kind of things. You would not do that in Camps Bay. The question is why would you not do it in Camps Bay if you’re not doing it there? What informs your logic of applying a different approach in Mannenberg than you do there? And a lot of these things have to do more with class. It’s the old racial responses, just re-transplanted but now it’s a bit broader to look at class. Now there are a lot of [indistinct] in our environment, there’s those streams. But the thinking with us around people’s concept of people’s policing is broader than just symptomatic policing that I referred to earlier.

A!: You’re saying that is a distinctive way of policing different areas

JV: No, I don’t say it should be. It shouldn’t be. This is what is still -.

A!: No, no, no, I’m saying it’s my observation that producing ops on Friday night with drugging in Long Street to drugging – it’s very different from the way they’ll do it in Manenberg or Hanover Park

JV: Exactly, exactly.

A!: My own experiences in growing up here, there are as many drugs on my side.

JV: Yes, that’s what it is. So that was the thing when I came to Claremont, I couldn’t understand it. I eventually told them take me out of this place.

A!: If I was arrested for drugs I know I’m going to rehab, I’m not going to jail.

JV: Ja. But coming to the Cape Flats example, what some of us said that if you don’t understand that the behaviour we’re seeing in front, even the existence of the gangs on the Cape Flats – you know, one must look at the material conditions that frames the circumstances in which these things happen. It’s useless trying to get moralistic about why are these kids admiring the guy, Rashied Staggie throws money out that. In a society that places a premium on the type of commodification that comes with bringing security. And that just comes back in a perverted form, in the form of Rashied Staggie and the rest

JV: Where did we stop by trying to explain the footprint of policing here and the different approaches. But like I said, part of people’s policing, the notion of it, is if you understand the material conditions that you face – that is the level that any crime prevention strategy must first penetrate – and that is not the police’s job. Take a simple crime, domestic violence form of violent crime, in all the gang areas too, even higher than gang violence, if I should put it to you. But if you look at the circumstances under which that happens, you have three generations of family within the same flat, same maisonette or some flat in Hanover Park or in Mannenberg, together with backyardarders. The propensity of tension constantly jostling in the environment is highly strong, is very, very strong. The risk of sexual abuse sometimes is highly strong. It’s highly probable in that particular environment, we have much more of those congestions; therefore for us it’s not surprising that our high rate of sexual offences come from precisely those circumstances. I’m not saying it’s different here but I want to highlight the point how domestic violence -. You go and you speak to people: ‘Why are you fighting here?’ And people start talking like that. Then you start realising how much a simple thing like housing in the long-term contributes to some of these things, to socialising, to a culture of socialisation into violence.

Let’s say a robber, a robber is an opportunist, so wherever the environment feeds perfect conditions for concealment if he does his job or where you are more vulnerable, they will take that particular opportunity to do that. So there’s no lights in a place; it’s heaven. They’ve got the natural cover of a constant environment that conceals me. So a simple material circumstance like that does it. If there are no roads in this place there are no controlled areas where police can patrol, where you can move safely with a cover that police are patrolling.

Now I want to come to that particular point in terms of the class issue. Let’s take a practical example, the Khayelitsha Makhaza issue in terms of the Social Justice Coalition takes up. One of the critiques I have [knowing comrades – unclear] [indistinct]. One of the critiques I have of the approaches is that there are circumstances that make it impossible for vans to drive in [indistinct] to do normal patrolling. Even if you go do [foot – unclear] patrolling and you fit in a particular area you’ll disappear instantly and your visibility is not really functioning. So the question is: what would create effective conditions for policing first? It’s improving the infrastructure in those areas. You cannot tell me, like I always tell somebody about Freedom Park [indistinct], you know what the people in Freedom Park have to do report something to the police? There’s no numbers on their houses, so they can’t call 10111.

A!: In Delft?

JV: In Freedom Park in Mitchells Plain, and also think about not only Freedom Park, the whole of certain parts of Makhaza, Enkanini and those areas of Khayelitsha. You can’t call and tell 10111 I live at number this – because there’s no infrastructure, there’s no recognition of your informal housing that comes on our system; the municipal recognition of property owners comes with the ownership of the property or the renting of the property from the state. They don’t accommodate for these environments out there. We were trying to tell the Social Justice Coalition, go and look at those things. Go look at the fact that there’s no lighting, you want to talk about high risk of rape. Go look at the fact that you have communal toilets that people have to go, women have to go to in the middle of the night – and that’s the infrastructure you put down. You’re bound to create this; your material conditions are producing the risk that leads to the crime. So that’s a practical example, and if you take this model there or you take wherever, it’s the same to the rural areas, it’s the same type of environment: the material conditions determine the effectiveness or the efficiency of policing – because we don’t ride horses anymore. And people must be able to communicate with us in order to get us there in an emergency and you can’t do that in the middle of Enkanini and tell us where you live. So that’s the sense in which we understand people’s policing, so that’s the one dimension of the argument that we have.

The second part of it: most of the crimes that produce, organised crime is a very gang-related small minute component of criminal activity in this country. It’s only because we see massive shootouts and gang leaders who are glamorised that we probably think this is the prevalence of the footprint of crime. The bulk of crime relates to social fabric issues; the domestic violence’s, the social-heated violence between people, the robbery. And we’re not talking about the robbery to sell, not this romantic notion of robbery to sell. The highest statistic in Mitchells Plain of crime besides domestic violence is shoplifting. The people who are doing shoplifting are not youngsters. The stuff that they are taking from Woolworths and Pick n Pay in the Promenade is food. So the criminality that I am talking about in the working class areas are not driven by the type of entrepreneurial type of drug dealing and organised criminal activity. So the policing of that crime requires people’s involvement from two perspectives. Let’s take firstly the poor material conditions in Freedom Park and that type of thing.

JV: …The second part of it: most of the crimes that produce, organised crime is a very gang-related small minute component of criminal activity in this country. It’s only because we see massive shootouts and gang leaders who are glamorised that we probably think this is the prevalence of the footprint of crime. The bulk of crime relates to social fabric issues; the domestic violence’s, the social-heated violence between people, the robbery. And we’re not talking about the robbery to sell, not this romantic notion of robbery to sell. The highest statistic in Mitchells Plain of crime besides domestic violence is shoplifting. The people who are doing shoplifting are not youngsters. The stuff that they are taking from Woolworths and Pick n Pay in the Promenade is food. So the criminality that I am talking about in the working class areas are not driven by the type of entrepreneurial type of drug dealing and organised criminal activity. So the policing of that crime requires people’s involvement from two perspectives. Let’s take firstly the poor material conditions in Freedom Park and that type of thing. We would see, I would see it as important for community structures to exist, to agitate for those conditions to appear, as part of normal policing. So if I have a street committee, or a flat committee, or a shack committee, or whatever you call it in that structure at grassroots level, before they start talking about other issues one of the fundamental parts of the job would be to agitate towards improving the environment to support effective policing in these areas]. The civil struggles around normal basic service delivery is important for policing, okay. Putting down, for example, adequate water supply infrastructure in an informal settlement is fundamental to policing. I always tell people the story of Jeffrey Nongwe [sp?] at Crossroads and that. That period, a lot of the manipulation that the then military intelligence did was to, if they’re working with you as a warlord, they’d place all the resources, like a tap, a simple thing like a tap, close to you, so you draw all the people to the tap and that becomes a form of political control. So, simple things like that can generate… in this case it wasn’t the case, but CAN generate tension between people. Because why is it with Nongwe? Why are all the facilities close to the hostels and not amongst us? So those things generate conflict. In a gang environment it’s even worse. Because the gangs position their control around areas where these key resources, where they are scarce, might be located. So that you know you come through them to access them. So those are the problems that this type of thing… so with our model organising and mobilising people at the most basic level, I’m not talking about advocacy groups here, we have a problem with people speaking on behalf of other people and taking collective militancy and channelling it into court cases, you’re destroying it, you demobilise people, dis-empower people. So that is the way we for example, Mitchell’s Plain, organises street committees, why it’s a normal part of our language. It’s contrary to the city model of course and those kind of things. So, we empower people to deal with the social issues to fight crime and also the material issues which generate the risk of it.

Amandla: How would you, on this point, how would you respond to activists, in the area like Mannenberg, saying that the city actually doesn’t want strong community organisations.

JV: We live in a neo-liberal world you know. Nobody wants strong civil… If they can have advocacy groups that channel militancy, de-collectivise it and put it into court cases, then that they can fight on their terms. They can’t fight organised mobilisation. Understand their default position is this securocraticone. Hence the language you get from the city: why are you not arresting them out on the highway, why are you not doing that, you know the classic response, why are you not bringing the army? I mean to deal with what? To do what? That is the type of thing, so I agree, but that is part of a broader type of liberalist politics that wants to deal with the poor as a non-mobilised force.

Amandla: They actually feel quite threatened by….

JV: Yeah, by the mobilisation that you have there…

Amandla: I just want to change… we can link this but, we’ve seen the militarisation of the police over the last few years, we’ve seen the consequences, but without going directly into that question which we’ll deal with later I’m sure, is to a degree the militarisation of the police in your view also not necessarily a militarisation against crime but a militarisation about controlling space and preventing these sort of things that threaten the social fabric control.

JV: Firstly let me just demythologise for you. The police never demilitarised and remilitarised through the sloganeering of someone. Never. Never. The structure in terms of the military tradition of instruction was always there. A militaristic way of doing tactical planning, was always there. Do you understand the military way of planning? You firstly see those on the other side as an adversary. That’s the first point. If I’m planning an operation in Mannenberg then I’m dealing with an adversary. If I have an adversary they better be clearly identified. Because otherwise I’m going to be blanketly searching everybody [unclear]. Okay, so firstly the notion of policing standing in adversarial relation, in an adversarial relationship that informs planning is the first part of the problem. And that notion comes from apartheid like the fortification notion. So that’s the firs thing. We are dealing with our sons and daughters and uncles and other, whether they call themselves 26, Nongoloza, Nongidelas [?]and whatever. So, that’s the first thing, the adversarial kind of position in relation to the public, it’s always been like that. People like us, and some of us slowly, shifted within the community mode of mobilising notion. But the dominant police officer there are people who are not TRT (tactical response teams) that you saw at Marikana or [task force?], that type of thing. The dominant type of policing is a totally different type of thing that’s what I want to get to you. But the militarisation, the ranks, whether you change the name to a senior super-intendant or a [colonel in the eyes of the constable they still see a colonel. You can tell somebody today, tomorrow that I will be a commissioner, they will still tell you that he’s a major general and that’s all. So it doesn’t matter, you know, what labels you put to what. If you want to change from a military culture, paramilitary culture, it’s going to take something much more fundamental than changing name designations or ranks. That’s what I want you to understand. Even during the time where there were senior super-intendants and all, did you see any difference? Did you see any difference? So I don’t know how people are juxtaposing the one period with the other period. It’s always been like that. What I however agree should change is, there are levels in policing, this is the important thing, that might require a very militaristic posture, but that is only in response to the threat you face. If I’m dealing with cash in transit guys I’m not going to send the van. If I’m dealing with a hostage situation or, although I don’t like to use the word, a ‘terror’ threat, I’m not going to send the local police. But what I am talking to you about here, to come back to it, is very much less than one 1 percent of crime in this country. The majority of the type of crime in this country doesn’t require that response. So the shape and structure and philosophy of policing, although it takes into account this, should primarily take the shape of what is required to police normal crime in the part of the social fabric of the society. That’s the one thing that I need to explain. Domestic violence is the highest crime, the highest form of violence in Mitchell’s Plain, and I don’t need the TRT to police that. In actual fact I don’t even sometimes need a van to police it. It’s a different process of engagement, it doesn’t only require me, it requires certain community organisations that specialise in those kinds of things. It requires us all together, so it doesn’t require my posturing only. So those are the type of things that I think you need to understand. Because the thing is, criminals militarise in response to you. The Nongoloza banding together as an army, taking the form of the response to the army during the boer war that was there, that was what they knew. So, you take the shape of what you face. The apartheid-era growth of the number gangs, the big gangs in the 70s, starting to arms themselves, it’s a response to the type of policing that they faced. Although they were not really focused on… except for breaking up gang fights here or there, but that is the type of thing we need to understand.

Amandle: To go back to the original threat that we started the whole thing with…

JV: Mannenburg?

Amandla: Well, sort of the history of gangs. What has been happening to gangs after apartheid?

JV: Basically the one consensual feature is they’re non-racial…

Amandla: Oh really?

JV: Yes, yes now it is not the oppression and those things, it is now the economic plight of the people

Amandla: It’s perceived as a coloured township…

JV: No, no you’re totally wrong here. Listen, let me just explain something here, okay. Let’s look at similar… you had gangs that were small during the time you had District 6, very contained environment [unclear]. It then got a major [transformation with restoring the social cohesion that might have controlled its rapid growth there, with it going out. Now you have the same thing with the emergence of the big townships, you have, going back to the 60s, the rural supply of labour, the flow through here, but without the social cohesion that came with the structures while you were in the peasantry, without that. You don’t have that anymore. You don’t have the same family relations and structures of order that you had there, with the additional advantage of chieftains and those things too, in the absence of men who go to work on the mines, to maintain some form of parental order in that social world. You don’t have that now with Khayalitsha and Nyanga and all of these things. But, what you do have is a big interface with the numbers because everybody who was inside you either changed and always in the 70s and the 60s between coloured gnangs and even the gangs were in [unclear]… its just post-1994 when whites became members]. It’s always been that way. Okay so that influenced… I can take you to Bakwene [?] I can take you to places where there are big numbers of old men… what you didn’t have there, what came as a later development was the street gangs, like the [unclear] gang. But you must understand it in relation to the material conditions. You see the [?] gang develops out of an opportunistic relationship with rentier capital. For rentier capital to be there must be infrastructure, if they want to protect shops there must be shops. There were no shops with [unclear]. There were no extra sources of income that would make a normal gang thrive. It is now that they’re beginning to thrive. It is now when you go to the Vatos and the Mavuras in Khayalitsha and you see a statue of Harlow and his gang [?]. So the organised formation of street gangs now serves as the development in the area, it’s reaching that particular level. And as trade-off happen once again, between local petit bourgeois capital – you want to run your business, you want to run your shebeen, you want to run your whatever, you want to protect your taxis on the rank, you make a deal with the lighties from the vATOS or the Mavuras and then you can get involved in all the territory. Do not see it, that is the mistake people make, as a foreign injection from elswhere, and the culture of Zulus. The class, the material conditions that produced the Mongrels, that produced HLs now exist in that area. The petty bourgeoisie has grown there. There’s now another resource base on which to run protection rackets on, that’s vulnerable, that’s where it happens. So those are types of things. It is not drugs, that’s the other myth, that define the growth of gangs. Gangs existed long before tik, long before mandrax, long before even dagga. In actual fact the first activities with gangs were robbery and extortion, it had nothing to do with drugs. Globe gang had nothing to do with drugs, [Sta…?] neither. You understand what I’m trying to do. Don’t look at the commodity as defining the nature of the problem, because otherwise you lose sight of the material conditions that shapes it.

Amandla: So, you were saying gangs are non-racial

JV: Okay, now like I said, it’s not the Boere and the whites anymore, it’s ‘us’, it’s open. But one of the things about the first gangs outside who jumped into the non-racial route, and that is probably because of the way they think, were the 26s who became essentially involved with the Americans. They, as drug sales opened up potential and they moved into Sea Point [], they needed a different profile to sell. And that profile is white. So later you had Americans gang members and 28 gang members from Greenpoint who were white, it was normal. You also had inside prison in the late 90s as it now changed in terms of mixing prison populations, you now had everybody becoming part of the numbers. So that non-racialisation created a better franchise. And some of the older guys they were killed here independently. I remember the first chap, Pieter… Pieterse… [he was the first South African to come to this country going on a trip to Brazil, who came up with cocaine. He did it three times and then Jacky [?] found out. They kidnapped him, they dealt with him, they didn’t kill him. And he ended up later compromised [compromising?] and went to prison. And that’s how they moved into Sea Point and the Freebase Circuit and Hatfield and all those areas. But they needed a different profile, do you understand what I’m trying to get at?

Amandla: For sure, and I mean a lot of people talk about the globalisation of international crime, and I mean you alluded to it as not so much globalisation as the stuff that’s here already, but I mean what are the effects of the ending of apartheid era tariffs and the opening up of the country to foreign capital. Has that really affected gangs here or has that just been exaggerated?

JV: That’s a bit exaggerated. In actual fact, let’s go through it one by one. There are two major Chinese Traid groups in this country, the [Mo Shin Mo??] and the [??] they’re both Hong Kong-based. They destroyed, there was a time when they were shootings in Rondebosch and all these things, they destroyed the Taiwanese Table Mountain Gang. They demolished them, so that’s the one part of it. They’ve always been scared of Cape Gangs. Because you see some of these older gangs like the Triad are used to set traditional ways of doing things. Some of what scares them about Cape gangs is their unpredictability. And they live according to a philosophy – I don’t know who of you understand the Numbers, you don’t even know when the people are deciding to kill you right when you’re sitting here and speaking normally. They have this mystique, you know, you cannot tie them down. So they started with the shark fin industry, and they started shifting into abalone, and they had to touch base with the 28s and all of these 26s who were controlling some of the trade. And what happened to them in the beginning is they got robbed. You know, because they come to make a deal and they come there with their 500 grand and you know how it works… the guys rob you. Simple as that. That’s what happened so sometimes they needed a [?] then they both get robbed and it was a big mess. Until the Triads, later the [Suni Yong…?] also moved in, they started saying no, we’re not going to pay you with money any more. Me have access to Methaqualone, which gets produced in China, mainland China, as the chemical, not the tablet, the chemical, in quite large quantities, it’s not illegal. It goes through China, in India it gets tabletified, which is also not illegal so you can buy it over the counter. So, that’s where the deal’s at: we give you the thing and then we’ll then and we won’t really help you, you’ll learn to make that agent. You know Ephedrine, we can also get those things and much more. So we’re going to pay you in a barter trade system for the abalone, then things went stable. While they were paying the money that was it. Yuri and the Russians here, and Lipthon[?], Mark and these chaps from uptown, Andre Naude and those guys who were going to be big names, they are in an alliance at the moment with the Sexy Boys, [Jerome Booysen] and those guys, and those guys are entirely unpredictable. Yuri at a birthday party swears in a joking way and gets shot after his party. Just after he drives outside of with his daughter. You know it’s a different dilemma. You know they did the same to Cyril Beeker?]. He went to see Jerome after that, he suddenly gets hit. They are business guys, but firstly they have their own code and you are always an outsider when they deal with you. Okay.

Amandla: So that’s one of the whole unpredictable…

JV: Yes completely. You see it’s opportunism. If some new Triad comes up to him tomorrow and says listen I’ll pay you more for the product, he’ll give it. And if you hassle him in the process he’ll deal with you. There’s no exclusivity in monopoly. They don’t operate… only monopolies.

Amandla: And Nigerian/Moroccan syndicates?

JV: Nigerians got killed in Sea Point.

Amandla: I heard about that.

JV: Ja. They have sort of settled themselves into being the suppliers. They will try, they have some trade here and there. But, they are tolerated and they must pay. Okay. But, Cape Flats gangs relate to you from the skill that you provide.

Amandla: And is the [unclear?]

JV: Yes. Let me take an example. Some of the master bond fraud guys, and guys like […Ali?] with the big investment frauds, they ended up being 26s in prison. They were recruited primarily because of their skill because the 26 gang is about making money, but you make it intelligently with cons and those sorts of things. And they were very impressed, to get the thousand rands they must to this. These guys get millions. The 26s must learn this technique. And they learned it through recruiting them. It was not strange to later arrest Mitchell’s Plain as part of this gang that run a credit card scam or run this scam. They learned it from there. The hothouse dagga planting thing wasn’t a thing you found in Mitchell’s Plain and this area. You find it now but where does that skill come from? It comes from recruiting people. They recruit you because they want in the Number that skill.

Amandla: So it’s the of [breeding?] of skilled white-collar criminals in a prison environment.

JV: Yes. A lots of them became 26s. Either 26s or 28s because these guys are walking money. You see to a 26 you are money. Hulle praat, hulle se: ‘ouens, kan jy die geld…[unclear]’. It means that you are the opportunity. You are the money. You are an object. So they look at that and the skill of gaining money is part of their normal laws or their way. They make excellent business. I don’t see any difference between them and the CEO of the company. They don’t need infrastructures.

Amandla: So, are you saying the international link…

JV: It’s not as if… if you’re talking about borders opening you’re talking about greater supply, you’re not talking about control. You’re talking about more supply lines.

Amandla: So the power of Nigerians and Moroccans is overstated?

JV: No, it’s not power. It’s supply. Power is something different in the [gang/game?], because power comes with force and control. No Nigerian can walk into Mannenburg and sell drugs. He’ll die. You don’t see them there. Sometimes even if you see them here trying something out here, they’re quiet, they have much more covert networks not only because they don’t want to be seen by us but because they don’t want to be seen by gangs, because they’ll get killed. That’s how it works.

Amandla: Very interesting. And I mean the other question I wanted to ask is: you’ve explained it very well but when a new drug comes into the market it has effects, I mean what sort of effects has tik had on the structure of gangs or has it not really had effects on the structure in terms of distribution…

JV: Look the structures grow independent of the drug. With the immediate shift in the 70s to mandrax… can I just put it this way: the gangs grew through spatial relocation that came as the first part, that’s how the footprint spread. Whether it’s inside prisons Numbers coming out and spreading to all other prisons because of a strategy to break them up up there, or whether it’s through the Group Areas breaking up certain areas and spreading. That is how it grows. It grows independent of the drug’s presence. It’s a means of organised survival in a perverse way.

Amandla: Tell me this thing of coloured identity amongst young people and their attraction to…

JV: To that? Well all I can tell you is that: firstly, starting with the Number, if you understand the language it redefines everything human. You speak a new language. You have new symbols through which you look at reality. You have a new… there’s nothing that gives you that sense of identity in Hanover Park. You do not walk around fearfully anymore being preyed on by other gangs because you are a gangster]. The stronger your gang is. If you are an HL people think twice before dealing with you, unless it’s an American from [the other side, where you are killed automatically. But, wherever, it is the brand. It is the power that comes with that myth of what he represents. You know, if I approach you for something and ask you for money like a 26 would – ‘can you please give me some money’. You don’t know the guy from a bar of soap. That is a nice shirt you have. You don’t know the guy, but you know that he’s a 26, that he comes with that. You give your scarf and you give your shirt and money. You understand what I’m trying to say. It’s the type of power that comes with being a gang member. The power of shooting somebody and being a hit-man and knowing somebody else is going to take the fall. Where do you get that feeling. So that is what I’m trying to say. The number makes a philosophy out of it, makes a belief system out of it. You get told all these myths about the great fight between the gangs and the eight stars falling form the sky and the seven start falling into the green grass…

Amandla: It sounds religious.

JV: Ja, it really is. It’s so encapturing that it’s easy to become part of it. And with the whole secrecy of prison, you won’t know the whole number, the whole story you can only know once you are Makwezi[?] in the 26s, which is above the rank of a fighting general. We will give you a little bit which is particular to your number, the compartmentalisation. And for those who are young it’s exciting [whispers] I want to be up there, I want to be a [?] I want to be a captain. These things come at a price.

Amandla: Tell me, the Pagad vigilante phenomenon of the late ’90s right. Now they took out quite a few people…

JV: Maybe some of them were drug dealers themselves…

Amandla: How significant was it in disrupting the leadership and creating a vacuum…

JV: It didn’t. You see the popular myth is one thing. The reality we know on the ground is something different. Let me take an example. You know what the HLs did in response to Rashaad Staggie. Firstly, they kidnapped a driver. They wanted his father because his father was in the video, they studied the video. They gave an instruction: every single one on that video must be killed with the exception of the [ournalist. So what they did is they made list because we went the guy who did that, one of the HL guys. And then his father didn’t [bribe?] so they decided to kill him. Another old man whose family was from Portland but he lived behind Wembley. He was kidnapped and tortured by the HLs and the Americans. They banded together. Together with [unclear] and those guys from Kensington. They decided to eliminate everyone. They kidnapped him, they killed him. There was delivery chap also. They had the memorial… not a memorial, the usual thing at the house, they went in and killed four of them, four of the people there including his daughter and his son and other family members. This is what I’m trying to tell you: there’s a time at which Pagad realised this comes at costs. And you must understand the dominant leadership of Pagad were middle class kids. Maybe smoked mandrax and some of them…

Amandla: so Pagad was a middle class and couldn’t take this?

JV: Ja, they were middle class kids, with the exception of a chap like Ebrahim Jennike [sp?] who was a working class boy from Mannenburg. He had the guts to walk up to you and shoot you straight in your head and those kinds of things. He had that. None of these Adbusalaam Ebrahims [sp] – fine they had the theory – but they didn’t have enough commitment to put guts to the theories. The working class boys from these areas had the guts to do the jobs. Here and there [.. but the moment some of them tasted prison then everything collapsed, all that theory. But the chaps with the guts…

Amanddla: So you mean taking out the core and that disrupted nothing.

JV: No, it doesn’t matter. The structure is an organism that reproduces itself, okay. It doesn’t matter who it is. It even takes out its own leaders if those leaders don’t support the functioning of the structure. Rashid Staggie and his brother were at the start of the Hard Livings. The Hard Livings now is an organism way beyond what it was when we sent him to prison 10-11 years ago.

Amandla: How?

JV: For example, when he was in one of the unique things he had, because his brother was a 28 general and he was a 26 general, that’s what made that gang so unique – it was the only gang that combined both 26s and 28s in one fold under a different identity. You do not get that in other places. It’s either 28 or 26, your Fancy Boy and you 28 or your American and your 26 in some other cases. That was unique. And that, Rashaad Staggie died, then the first group started going [unclear], those 28s that were part of it started having issues with Rashid’s 26 leadership. But the other thing about Rashid, because he’s a fighting general in the 26s, at his level he makes decisions in a highly centrist way. And a fighting general in the prison system controls what you call [Zomkhozi], all the wealth of the gang, determines the distribution. He applied that to his own gang. So he had a very centralist way of controlling. When he went to prison, as happens with all of these things, all of those things collapsed. And for a while when the Staggies’ were gone it disappeared as a feature. They broke up into separate chapters – Watson stayed in Mannenburg, Donovan went to Ocean View, the other guy Gareth went to Mitchell’s Plain, other guys went to Delft So they took a piece of the wealth with them, transplanted the franchise to those areas, but it wasn’t really what it was when it was when it was district 6 thing. They spread that.

Amandla: Was it [appointment?]

JV: No, simply because there was a vacuum. Staggie never developed second layer leadership. [unclear]. He’s a Number man.

Amandla: So there’s a hierarchy.

JV: The number follows a strict type of progression with certain acts that must be fulfilled at certain times in your history to achieve a certain thing. Staggie didn’t empower his people. Watson and them were [just gun men… They never really gave these people something. When he went in, people came together and said okay, I’m going my way and that’s how they did it. He will not be able to, if he comes out, like he is now and he wants to take control of that, they will kill him. If he comes there again with his fighting general number. Do you know how it works? If you’re an officer in the Numbers, 28s, if I walk around outside and say who’s that there, oh he’s 26. I say hoe gaan dit and the guy must recognise me. If he doesn’t recognise me it’s a problem. And part of that recognition involves recognising that because I’m the senior year, your camp is part of my camp, and because your camp is part of mine your assets are part of my assets, so if need money to survive you will give it to me. So those are the kind of things that come with that.

Amandla: So if ever…

JV: If ever, they will kill him. I’m telling you they’ll kill him. And he doesn’t have that fear amongst the soldiers. You see, the base level of the HLs now are younger guys who would never in his time been HLs. Staggie and Rashaad had this thing where you can be lighty here and once you get older and show your guts and you become a Hard Livings gang member. But then you must be [unclear]. Do you understand? You can see the photos, the people around Staggie earlier, you can see its older guys, late 20s and that, not 15/16 year olds. A lot of them now… while he was in prison the HLs who were outside needed to defend their ranks against the Americans [unclear]. They recruited all these younger guys into their fold. That’s why that boy was shot at [?], he was an HL. He came from the Stuper[?] Gang that was incorporated into the HLs. You understand. That’s part of that particular process. But those laaities are unpredictable. I mean what does fighting general mean to them

Amandla: So he’s a man of yesterday?

JV: He’s a man of yesterday. The best thing for him to do is for him to sort of… I was the one opposing his [paroke

[inaudible]

JV: You know, I tried everything with this thing. I was saying firstly, okay fine, correctional services is saying in terms of internally your record is clean and you’re rehabilitated. But I’m not here to measure you in terms of what correctional services says, you might have been an angel inside. I’m talking about what you are outside. You are a fighting general in the 26s. By the way you are the most senior person in prison at this moment in the 26s gang in this country. Secondly, you are still regarded as the leader of the Hard Livings[?] gang, one of the most powerful gangs in Mannenburg. What are you going to do with that to do something constructive outside? Then he shocked me entirely; he said no he’s going to denounce the number. I said do you know what that means, and he said ja no he’s prepared to take… and he went on and said that God told him to do it. The second thing is that I said but the HLs, that’s another matter entirely. He said no then he’ll denounce the HLs too. And on that ticket he convinced the other people on the parole board. The parole board are civilians, ne. We just come, correctional services come and say we did this [unclear] with the guy and say this is the problem. So he convinced them. But he can’t go back. If he goes back he’s going to die. Now I’m not convinced that, you know… Rashid is also a certified sacrifice. Certified.

JV: Not allegedly, certified, that medical thing, because he was treated. No I’m not sure whether you know… that is a different type of mindset. A person who is used to the type of power that man has. I really don’t know.

Amandla: It doesn’t relinquish that easy hey?

JV: It’s not easy. I mean, in the Numbers, I’m telling you another 26 lighty comes up and tells him fuck you, who are you? He’s going to react from another instinct.

Amandla: Tell me we’ve…

JV: What I want you to understand is the class dimension, the material dimension of all the things. When we talk about gangs and response, we’re talking about the development of policing.

Amandla: This is fascinating stuff.

JV: Policing. Colonial policing was about protecting class interests.

Amandla: If you could just suggest any readings or any sort of things to investigate we’d really appreciate that.

JV: Okay, if you really want to.

Amandla: I really want to

JV: One of the most brilliant writers on the early history is Charles van Onselen

Amandla: Yeah I’ve read his…

JV: Get a paper of his titled ‘Regiment of the Hills’

Amandla: I think I’ve got it.

JV: Read that. He writes a small book, I think ‘A Matter of a Small Horse’ but that’s one thing. If you want to understand the environment he’s by far the authority on the earlier period.

Amandla: That New Babylon book I’ve gotten. I haven’t read it but I’ve got it.

JV: [inaudible] is it out already?

Amandla: It’s been out for a while. I’ve got an old edition from like 20 years ago.

JV: Okay, I wrote something as a manual to instruct people on the Number and the language and all those things. Read Steinberg’s[?] stuff because he consulted with me.

Amandla: Yeah, the Number?

JV: The Number. But if you understand the story of that general he’s telling you’ll understand what he’s going to face on the outside. That is to see what such a person has to go through. What else is there?… But coming back to the… [inaudible – something about Steinberg’s book The Number] That is the one he consulted with me on. I’ll tell you how The Number came about. I know Jonny quite well because he did some work in Pollsmoor and he wrote a small track. And then he was referred to me in terms of the Number from guys in prison, because they told him he’s a cop who knows the language and can speak the thing. So he ended up speaking to me and I ended up giving him those things I wrote. But, one thing, what happened there is the actual chap he interviews I got from prison to speak to him. Okay so what I did is: I told him, you record that chap to tell you exactly as he says.

Amandla: Are you talking about…

JV: Yeah So I said then you bring it to me and I’ll interpret what he says, and I’ll tell you he’s bullshitting you here and those kind of things. So that is how the relationship has been. So that’s an important book but from the personal type of dimension. But when you look at the early history that will be that. What else… You see most of these 80s, 90s period you won’t get stuff. [Don Pinnock sp?] wrote but he mostly focused on the youth phenomena. Some of his understandings about the number were faulty. Because he didn’t understand the language you see. The symbols, the slight shift in a tattoo between, you know those pillars that they have opened and close, between where the sun is positioned. Those types of dynamics you need to understand in order to do that. But, coming back to the peoples’ policing notion, you’ll probably pick up in the media that the people, the city has quite an issue with me because of my criticism of programs like Ceasefire and those kind of things. Part of the reason is: the issue is that there are people who if you organise them correctly can deal with these problems at grassroots level. You know you just need to tap into it. You don’t need easy recipes from other countries to deal with it. But the most important thing is: I want you to look at, there’s a model that I’ve been arguing some of the street committees in Mitchell’s Plain should start looking at.] Okay let me explain. In Latin America in San Salvador, after the conflict there emerged a lot of youth gangs.

Amandla: Yeah like MS13 [sp?]

JV: Ja, Mara [sp?], they called them collectively the Mara across that whole belt from Mexico. [tries to remember a name]

Amandla: The one based in LA?

JV: It started in San Salvador

Amandla: Yeah so we’re talking about MS13.

JV: I’m talking about the original group

Amandla: Yeah.

JV: Go look at their approach. Their approach says that in areas where the state materially has been unable to deliver, and in San Salvador parts where policing also does not deliver, the only approach to the problem involves transforming those very structures. That’s the first premise. If the gangs are the cause of the conflict, try and transform them into something else. It has a philosophy, a four prong strategy: the first part involves reconnecting the gang member to the other organised structures of his normal life, the family. So they have a big particular program dealing with, if you were part of that, reconnecting you with the family. So a lot of their social investment foes into that. And they’ve aligned certain progressive organisations to be focussing on funding and activism around building families in the areas where the gangs were strong. Reconnection. It’s a vert concrete level. The other part involves, after you’ve done that or you’ve got them off drugs, getting all the drugs is not a chemicalised process in only that. They now social links. For social links you need community communication. That type of principle. So that have a lot of emphasis on that instead of only emphasis on rehabilitation by taking you away to a place or that kind of thing. They don’t have that kind of notion, they’re primary level is primary level care. The third dimension is after you’ve gone through this process, you’re integrated via the family, your problems are being dealt with, your gang becomes a civic structure.

Amandla: A civic structure?

JV: Yes, let’s continue. Or part of the civic movement that exist. To agitate against the material conditions that produce you. But as part of normal… You’re not doing it as the Mara or that, now you’re doing it as part of this. But we’re taking that principle that you have of cohesion within the gang, and transplanting it and channelling the thing to a different program. So you see you start from the micro [inaudible]. So that is it, but that whole process involves empowering the people and building capacity amongst the people. You know it doesn’t involve foreign funded advocacy.

Amandla: And that’s contrary to the entire myth and plans for development here.

JV: Ja contrary to the Ceasefire thing. You understand this involved empowering people. That is the important difference in the way we look at the thing. That is a good international precedent.

Amandla: If you can send us a link we’ll definitely check it out.

JV: I can.

Amandla: We’ll get your details from you, your email.

JV: Okay but that is a practical example because they work under conditions similar to that, and in studying gangs…

Amandla: Tell me, in Mannenburg the Ceasefire thing is a crazy thing because it all it allows is for the drug thing to go on. It’s a veneer.

JV: No the only reason you can get an agreement between people is on their terms and their framework, not yours. And that’s what we’ve been trying to tell priests and all these idealists who’re trying to do these things.

Amandla: On whose terms?

JV: On the gang terms. Because you go into a meeting and you open up and you chair, it happened to the chap who started the ISS, they went and started chairing the meeting and it was the HLs and the Americans and the Clever Kids from that time in the early 90s. So they went into this meeting and then the guys spoke a whole different language, and then for two hours they couldn’t understand what the hell the people were saying . When they finished people walked out and thanked them for bringing them together for this meeting saying there’s peace now, you can go and make your press announcement. But what literally had happened is the following. Okay. You kill the captain of our side, we won’t kill… you don’t have a captain in your gangs, so three sergeants will be fine, their blood will be fine in equivalent to that. But, we don’t want an incident so you kill your guys yourselves. So we’re equivalent in the levels of blood. It was exchanged. Secondly we fought about this part of Mannenburg. Okay fine, we agree in terms of the street sales. You can put three more guys but with the Clever Kids it was the taxi being taxed as they come into Mannenburg off Duinerfontein Road. You I’ll have a [this area and you’ll. have a that area Because the fight was about, by the time you pay your taxes the taxi will be gone down…

Amandla: So you’ll split you protection racket?

JV: Yes. Say okay fine. The HLs, the Clever Kids that time of the war they were sitting on a gold mine. Because as you come into those flats that was their territory. By the time they tax you you don’t have money to pay further down as you go down. That’s what the war was about. It wasn’t about drugs. The Clever Kids were not even into drugs at that point in time, it’s only much later because of the protection route entry from Duinerfontein road, there wasn’t a Nyanga junction. And it just so happened that these Clever Kids happened to be there and they taxed the taxis as the only source of income. But in this meeting I’m talking about was, okay we’ll share with the HLs, not the noble idealism of the guy who comes from the church.. You sit there and you getguys like this MEC who sits there and gets cut out. Then they tell him afterwards we’ve have a peace deal and he believes all of this. All they needed, because at some stage having this constant war is bad for business because it attracts major policing, so they needed a party to get them together because they would not get together normally. Okay so only this neutral party of a priest or imam can bring them together. But once they’re there they serve no purpose. Their own agreements and their code determines that. You see, so I don’t see anything in the ceasefire. This thing doesn’t take symptomatic solutions. Like that [unclear] program that I’m talking about its long term, it’s transformative, it’s programmatic. You work to change according to a programme. You don’t come with fire brigade type of tactics.

Amandla: But fire brigade tactics are good for election time.

JV: No well that’s why I don’t do it. I don’t believe. It’s a monumentous waste of state resources, like this Mannenburg thing in the schools. Why go to the schools? The threat was never really on the schools, the threat was on the streets neighbouring the schools.

Amandla: Sure. So the strategy of open up rehabs and…

JV: Rehabs are for certain levels of specialised treatment but the moment we follow the neo-liberal model of commodifying treatment for what is a social ill, we create problems. I’m not saying that level of specialisation is not required. It is. But the mainstay of what you do should be preventative work involving the power of the community through the structures of the community. And that is a skill the community have. You must just bring them together and mobilise them in that way. You don’t need foreign funding. You don’t need to inject specialist experts or academics to do that. People know how to do these things. The poor have the most amazing… how do you think they survived under the conditions of Elsie’s River after all these years, generation after generation. There must be some collective capacity to that. If you can take it, organise it, and mobilise it in that particular way minus all the political ballgames that are being played, you have an amazing resource. But I mean you live in a neo-liberal type of environment.

[unclear, interviewer asks about an acronym VPU]

JV: Violence Protection Unit? [Firstly let’s talk about that. That program [?] gentrification, and used Woodstock as an example. It comes from Chicago, the neo-liberal model of policing and development. Where it’s the same type of thinking. Out-upgrade [?] the problem. All you do is dislocate it. So Woodstock used to be a problem so we gentrify Woodstock and the problem can’t afford to stay there any more so they more to TafelsigIf you transplant that to areas in Mannenburg it’s the same principal. What happens is all the same you take this area you build it up primarily business orientated. You ensure it has proper security, try enforce policing to sort of centre itself around it, and you hope the impact of that would further move away… but that doesn’t happen. You improve the material conditions where they are, make it even. It doesn’t start with developing a middle class, that is a myth. There is no middle class to develop homegrown in Khayalitsha. Wherever you build, if you build down the promenade you bring in big capital. It will be the Pick ‘n Pays, the Woolworths, all the big ones. That doesn’t impact on crime. What I can tell you, on the large size of the mall where there used to be low-cost housing they suddenly disappear because you’ve displaced them. So it’s a perverse solution. But my biggest problem is that it focuses on the development only of the petty bourgeoisie and their material needs, which represent a very minute part of that whole infrastructure on Mitchell’s Plain. And once again it forces policing into a protective model of a class enclave inside those areas. One of the biggest complaints I used to get from the City is there’s no vans around the promenade. I’m more concerned with vans and dogs, really, than whether Woolworths gets robbed. Because Woolworths ploughs nothing into it. They are just Woolworths, they are there in the middle of the place. So that’s the first tactic. So if one is talking about violence prevention through intereventions] that is part of a full package of looking at all levels of material deprivation that contributes to the type of criminality. But then you must be doing something for the community then you must actually becreating jobs then we’re talking about footprints, infrastructure like business, all of those things. The whole notion to me, is quite averse to you know, that we need to be worried whether capital is here because if capital is here then everything is going to grow – its bullshit. That type of thinking informs that type of thing. That’s why my ideological position is that but from a policing position it just imposes, that type of philosophy sometimes imposes the frame or model of policing, I should put it that way

Amandla: And what you said earlier, if you actually look at grassroots the poor have tremendous agency.

JV: Of course

Amandla: And would you say that in terms of the developmental state we’ve lost that?

JV: I have a different understanding of the state, I don’t believe in this development state notion.

Amandla: In terms of what is there. Is there any…

JV: The problem with the kind of developmental state model as it is argued here, it rests on the same assumptions as the VPUapproach. Bring capital and develop a middle class and that is the ultimate solution to the problem. I don’t share those sentiments. I’m saying you measure society by the material difference it made to the poorest section of society. That is the yardstick. What difference does it make to the rural poor and the most destitute in our environment, that is the measure, that is the yardstick, not whether we have Woolworths in Mitchell’s Plain or Nyanga. It’s a perverse type of contradiction. I think that’s the sense in which I look at it. Because what does this investment mean? How much local labour that progresses to benefit beyond the casual labour has gone into Pick n pay’s in the promenade? Pick ‘n Pay on the promenade runs with casual labour.

Amandla: It leaves no plumbers behind or architects…

JV: Even the building of that type of thing, they say they advance local, and then you come to it people are doing the job, the skilled artisans are not being utilised in those thing. Because of unnecessarily complicated corporate tender type of things. I’m not saying we must relax it but what I’m trying to say is the whole tender process as it comes with some of these things has to do, in the business part, you need a team of corporate lawyers and massive infrastructure in order to qualify. [unclear]

Amandla: The corporates are basically commercialising simple service delivery.

JV: Commodifying it.

Amandla: Yes, commodifying it.

JV: There are some things that should not be commodified.

Amandla: Yes and what is this call for foreign investment but a call basically to break up unions.

JV: The interesting thing is the conflict within the city around the water meters things. What happened is the street committee infrastructures that we had created led the anti-water meter campaign in Tafelsign. People were saying the police are behind this campaign. And ti was generating… Eventually they wanted us to tackle them. I said no. This system you’re introducing here, you’ve commodified the basic service delivery of water to people in this environment. It is what is causing your council trucks to be stoned. You’re being chased out of a meeting? I’m not going to police that, why must I police that. The factor that generated some problems, and a lot of people have problems with that…

JV: …The second part of it: most of the crimes that produce, organised crime is a very gang-related small minute component of criminal activity in this country. It’s only because we see massive shootouts and gang leaders who are glamorised that we probably think this is the prevalence of the footprint of crime. The bulk of crime relates to social fabric issues; the domestic violence’s, the social-heated violence between people, the robbery. And we’re not talking about the robbery to sell, not this romantic notion of robbery to sell. The highest statistic in Mitchells Plain of crime besides domestic violence is shoplifting. The people who are doing shoplifting are not youngsters. The stuff that they are taking from Woolworths and Pick n Pay in the Promenade is food. So the criminality that I am talking about in the working class areas are not driven by the type of [indistinct] entrepreneurial type of drug dealing and organised criminal activity. So the policing of that crime requires people’s involvement from two perspectives. Let’s take firstly the poor material conditions in Freedom Park and that type of thing. We would see, I would see it as important for community structures to exist, to agitate for those conditions to appear, as part of normal policing. So if I have a street committee, or a flat committee, or a shack committee, or whatever you call it in that structure at grassroots level, before they start talking about other issues one of the fundamental parts of the job would be to agitate towards improving the environment to support effective policing in [inaudible]. The civil struggles around normal basic service delivery is important for policing, okay. Putting down, for example, adequate water supply infrastructure in an informal settlement is fundamental to policing. I always tell people the story of Jeffrey Nongwe [sp?] at Crossroads and that. That period, a lot of the manipulation that the then military intelligence did was to, if they’re working with you as a warlord, they’d place all the resources, like a tap, a simple thing like a tap, close to you, so you draw all the people to the tap and that becomes a form of political control. So, simple things like that can generate… in this case it wasn’t the case, but CAN generate tension between people. Because why is it with Nongwe? Why are all the facilities close to the hostels and not amongst us? So those things generate conflict. In a gang environment it’s even worse. Because the gangs position their control around areas where these key resources, where they are scarce, might be located. So that you know you come through them to access them. So those are the problems that this type of thing… so with our model organising and mobilising people at the most basic level, I’m not talking about advocacy groups here, we have a problem with people speaking on behalf of other people and taking collective militancy and channelling it into court cases, you’re destroying it, you demobilise people, dis-empower people. So that is the way we for example, Mitchell’s Plain, organises street committees, why it’s a normal part of our language. It’s contrary to the city model of course and those kind of things. So, we empower people to deal with the social issues to fight crime and also the material issues which generate the risk of it.

Amandla: How would you, on this point, how would you respond to activists, in the area like Mannenberg, saying that the city actually doesn’t want strong community organisations.

JV: We live in a neo-liberal world you know. Nobody wants strong civil… If they can have advocacy groups that channel militancy, de-collectivise it and put it into court cases, then that they can fight on their terms. They can’t fight organised mobilisation. Understand their default position is this securocratic [?] one. Hence the language you get from the city: why are you not arresting them out on the highway, why are you not doing that, you know the classic response, why are you not bringing the army? I mean to deal with what? To do what? That is the type of thing, so I agree, but that is part of a broader type of liberalist politics that wants to deal with the poor as a non-mobilised force.

Amandla: They actually feel quite threatened by….

JV: Yeah, by the mobilisation that you have there…

Amandla: I just want to change… we can link this but, we’ve seen the militarisation of the police over the last few years, we’ve seen the consequences, but without going directly into that question which we’ll deal with later I’m sure, is to a degree the militarisation of the police in your view also not necessarily a militarisation against crime but a militarisation about controlling space and preventing these sort of things that threaten the social fabric control.

JV: Firstly let me just demythologise for you. The police never demilitarised and remilitarised through the sloganeering of someone. Never. Never. The structure in terms of the military tradition of instruction was always there. A militaristic way of doing tactical planning, was always there. Do you understand the military way of planning? You firstly see those on the other side as an adversary. That’s the first point. If I’m planning an operation in Mannenberg then I’m dealing with an adversary. If I have an adversary they better be clearly identified. Because otherwise I’m going to be blanketly searching everybody [unclear]. Okay, so firstly the notion of policing standing in adversarial relation, in an adversarial relationship that informs planning is the first part of the problem. And that notion comes from apartheid like the fortification notion. So that’s the firs thing. We are dealing with our sons and daughters and uncles and other, whether they call themselves 26, Nongoloza, Nongidelas [?]and whatever. So, that’s the first thing, the adversarial kind of position in relation to the public, it’s always been like that. People like us, and some of us slowly, shifted within the community mode of mobilising notion. But the dominant police officer [unclear] are people who are not TRT (tactical response teams) that you saw at Marikana or [task force?], that type of thing. The dominant type of policing is a totally different type of thin, that’s what I want to get to you. But the militarisation, the ranks, whether you change the name to a senior super-intendant or a [colonel?], in the eyes of the constable they still see a colonel. You can tell somebody today, tomorrow that I will be a commissioner, they will still tell you that he’s a major general and that’s all. So it doesn’t matter, you know, what labels you put to what. If you want to change from a military culture, paramilitary culture, it’s going to take something much more fundamental than changing name designations or ranks. That’s what I want you to understand. Even during the time where there were senior super-intendants and all, did you see any difference? Did you see any difference? So I don’t know how people are juxtaposing the one period with the other period. It’s always been like that. What I however agree should change is, there are levels in policing, this is the important thing, that might require a very militaristic posture, but that is only in response to the threat you face. If I’m dealing with cash in transit guys I’m not going to send the van. If I’m dealing with a hostage situation or, although I don’t like to use the word, a ‘terror’ threat, I’m not going to send the local police. But what I am talking to you about here, to come back to it, is very much less than one 1 percent of crime in this country. The majority of the type of crime in this country doesn’t require that response. So the shape and structure and philosophy of policing, although it takes into account this, should primarily take the shape of what is required to police normal crime in the part of the social fabric of the society. That’s the one thing that I need to explain. Domestic violence is the highest crime, the highest form of violence in Mitchell’s Plain, and I don’t need the TRT to police that. In actual fact I don’t even sometimes need a van to police it. It’s a different process of engagement, it doesn’t only require me, it requires certain community organisations that specialise in those kinds of things. It requires us all together, so it doesn’t require my posturing only. So those are the type of things that I think you need to understand. Because the thing is, criminals militarise in response to you. The Nongoloza banding together as an army, taking the form of the response to the army during the boer war that was there, that was what they knew. So, you take the shape of what you face. The apartheid-era growth of the number gangs, the big gangs in the 70s, starting to arms themselves, it’s a response to the type of policing that they faced. Although they were not really focused on… except for breaking up gang fights here or there, but that is the type of thing we need to understand.

Amandle: To go back to the original threat that we started the whole thing with…

JV: Mannenburg?

Amandla: Well, sort of the history of gangs. What has been happening to gangs after apartheid?

JV: Basically the one consensual feature is they’re non-racial…

Amandla: Oh really?

JV: Yes, yes now [inaudible] is not the oppression and those things, it is now the economic plight of the people

Amandla: It’s perceived as a coloured township…

JV: No, no you’re totally wrong here. Listen, let me just explain something here, okay. Let’s look at similar… you had gangs that were small during the time you had District 6, very contained environment [unclear]. It then got a major [unclear] with restoring the social cohesion that might have controlled its rapid growth there, with it going out. Now you have the same thing with the emergence of the big townships, you have, going back to the 60s, the rural supply of labour, the flow through here, but without the social cohesion that came with the structures while you were in the peasantry, without that. You don’t have that anymore. You don’t have the same family relations and structures of order that you had there, with the additional advantage of chieftains and those things too, in the absence of men who go to work on the mines, to maintain some form of parental order in that social world. You don’t have that now with Khayalitsha and Nyanga and all of these things. But, what you do have is a big interface with the numbers because everybody who was inside you either changed [inaudible]and always in the 70s and the 60s between coloured [unclear]… and even the gangs were in [unclear]… its just post-1994 when whites became [unclear]. It’s always been that way. Okay so that influenced… I can take you to Bakwene [?] I can take you to places where there are big numbers of old men… what you didn’t have there, what came as a later development was the street gangs, like the [unclear] gang. But you must understand it in relation to the material conditions. You see the [?] gang develops out of an opportunistic relationship with rentier capital. For rentier capital to be there must be infrastructure, if they want to protect shops there must be shops. There were no shops with [unclear]. There were no extra sources of income that would make a normal gang thrive. It is now that they’re beginning to thrive. It is now when you go to the [?] and the Mavuras [?] in Khayalitsha and you see a statue of Harlow and his gang [?]. So the organised formation of street gangs now serves as the development in the area, it’s reaching that particular level. And as trade-off happen once again, between local petit bourgeois capital – you want to run your business, you want to run your shebeen, you want to run your whatever, you want to protect your taxis on the rank, you make a deal with the lighties from the [?] or the Mavuras [?] and then you can get involved in all the territory. Do not see it, that is the mistake people make, as a foreign injection from, and [unclear] of Zulus [?]. The class, the material conditions that produced the Mongrels, that produced HLs [?] now exist in that area. The petty bourgeoisie has grown there. There’s now another resource base on which to run protection rackets on, that’s vulnerable, that’s where it happens. So those are types of things. It is not drugs, that’s the other myth, that define the growth of gangs. Gangs existed long before tik, long before mandrax, long before even dagga. In actual fact the first activities with gangs were robbery and extortion, it had nothing to do with drugs. [Gl…?] gang had nothing to do with drugs, [Sta…?] neither. You understand what I’m trying to do. Don’t look at the commodity as defining the nature of the problem, because otherwise you lose sight of the material conditions that shapes it.

Amandla: So, you were saying gangs are non-racial

JV: Okay, now like I said, it’s not the Boere and the [Map…?] anymore, it’s ‘us’, it’s open. But one of the things about the first gangs outside who jumped into the non-racial route, and that is probably because of the way they think, were the 26s who became essentially involved with the Americans. They, as drug sales opened up potential and they moved into Sea Point [unclear], they needed a different profile to sell. And that profile is white. So later you had Americans gang members and 28 gang members from Greenpoint who were white, it was normal. You also had inside prison in the late 90s as it now changed in terms of mixing prison populations, you now had everybody becoming part of the numbers. So that non-racialisation created a better [fr…?]. And some of the older guys they were killed here independently. I remember the first chap, Pieter… Pieterse… [unclear], he was the first South African to come to this country going on a trip to Brazil, who came up with cocaine. He did it three times and then Jacky [?] found out. They kidnapped him, they dealt with him, they didn’t kill him. And he ended up later compromised [compromising?] and went to prison. And that’s how they moved into Sea Point and Freebay Circuit [?] [..field] and all those areas. But they needed a different profile, do you understand what I’m trying to get at?

Amandla: For sure, and I mean a lot of people talk about the globalisation of international crime, and I mean you alluded to it as not so much globalisation as the stuff that’s here already, but I mean what are the effects of the ending of apartheid era tariffs and the opening up of the country to foreign capital. Has that really effected gangs here or has that just been exaggerated?

JV: That’s a bit exaggerated. In actual fact, let’s go through it one by one. There are two major Chinese Traid groups in this country, the [Mo Shin Mo??] and the [??] they’re both Hong Kong-based. They destroyed, there was a time when they were shootings in Rondebosch and all these things, they destroyed the Taiwanese Table Mountain Gang. They demolished them, so that’s the one part of it. They’ve always been scared of Cape Gangs. Because you see some of these older gangs like the Triad are used to set traditional ways of doing things. Some of what scares them about Cape gangs is their unpredictability. And they live according to a philosophy – I don’t know who of you understand the Numbers, you don’t even know when the people are deciding to kill you right when you’re sitting here and speaking normally. They have this mystique, you know, you cannot tie them down. So they started with the shark fin industry, and they started shifting into abalone, and they had to touch base with the 28s and all of these 26s who were controlling some of the trade. And what happened to them in the beginning is they got robbed. You know, because they come to make a deal and they come there with their 500 grand and you know how it works… the guys rob you. Simple as that. That’s what happened so sometimes they needed a [?] then they both get robbed and it was a big mess. Until the Triads, later the [Suni Yong…?] also moved in, they started saying no, we’re not going to pay you with money any more. Me have access to Methaqualone, which gets produced in China, mainland China, as the chemical, not the tablet, the chemical, in quite large quantities, it’s not illegal. It goes through China, in India it gets tabletified, which is also not illegal so you can buy it over the counter. So, that’s where the deal’s at: we give you the thing and then we’ll then and we won’t really help you, you’ll learn to make that agent. You know Ephedrine, we can also get those things and much more. So we’re going to pay you in a barter trade system for the abalone, then things went stable. While they were paying the money that was it. [Uri and the Russians?] here, and Lipthon[?], Mark and these chaps from uptown, Andre Naude and those guys who were going to be big names, they are in an alliance at the moment with the Sexy Boys, [Jerome Booysen] and those guys, and those guys are entirely unpredictable. Uri at a birthday party swears in a joking way and gets shot after his party. Just after he drives outside of [?] with his daughter. You know it’s a different dilemma. You know they did the same to [Beker?]. He went to see Jerome after that, he suddenly gets hit. They are business guys, but firstly they have their own code and you are always an outsider when they deal with you. Okay.

Amandla: So that’s one of the whole unpredictable…

JV: Yes completely. You see it’s opportunism. If some [?] Triad comes up to him tomorrow and says listen I’ll pay you more for the product, he’ll give it. And if you hassle him in the process he’ll deal with you. There’s no exclusivity in monopoly. They don’t operate… only monopolies.

Amandla: And Nigerian/Moroccan syndicates?

JV: Nigerians got killed in Sea Point.

Amandla: I heard about that.

JV: Ja. They have sort of settled themselves into being the suppliers. They will try, they have some trade here and there. But, they are tolerated and they must pay. Okay. But, Cape Flats gangs relate to you from the skill that you provide.

Amandla: And is the [unclear?]

JV: Yes. Let me take an example. Some of the master bond fraud guys, and guys like […Ali?] with the big investment frauds, they ended up being 26s in prison. They were recruited primarily because of their skill because the 26 gang is about making money, but you make it intelligently with cons and those sorts of things. And they were very impressed, to get the thousand rands they must to this. These guys get millions. The 26s must learn this technique. And they learned it through recruiting them. It was not strange to later arrest Mitchell’s Plain as part of this gang that run a credit card scam or run this scam. They learned it from there. The hothouse dagga planting thing [?] wasn’t a thing you found in Mitchell’s Plain and this area. You find it now but where does that skill come from? It comes from [unclear?]. They recruit you because they want in the Number that skill.

Amandla: So it’s the of [breeding?] of skilled white-collar criminals in a prison environment.

JV: Yes. A lots of them became 26s. Either 26s or 28s because these guys are walking money. You see to a 26 you are money. Hulle praat, hulle se: ‘ouens, kan jy die geld…[unclear]’. It means that you are the opportunity. You are the money. You are an object. So they look at that and the skill of gaining money is part of their normal laws or their way. They make excellent business. I don’t see any difference between them and the CEO of the company. They don’t need infrastructures.

Amandla: So, are you saying the international link…

JV: It’s not as if… if you’re talking about borders opening you’re talking about greater supply, you’re not talking about control. You’re talking about more supply lines.

Amandla: So the power of Nigerians and Moroccans is overstated?

JV: No, it’s not power. It’s supply. Power is something different in the [gang/game?], because power comes with force and control. No Nigerian can walk into Mannenburg and sell drugs. He’ll die. You don’t see them there. Sometimes even if you see them here trying something out here, they’re quiet, they have much more covert networks not only because they don’t want to be seen by us but because they don’t want to be seen by gangs, because they’ll get killed. That’s how it works.

Amandla: Very interesting. And I mean the other question I wanted to ask is: you’ve explained it very well but when a new drug comes into the market it has effects, I mean what sort of effects has tik had on the structure of gangs or has it not really had effects on the structure in terms of distribution…

JV: Look the structures grow independent of the drug. With the immediate shift in the 70s to mandrax… can I jsut put it this way: the gangs grew through [spatial…?], that came as the first part, that’s how the footprint spread. Whether it’s inside prisons Numbers coming out and spreading to all other prisons because of a strategy to break them up up there, or whether it’s through the Group Areas breaking up certain areas and spreading. That is how it grows. It grows independent of the drug’s presence. It’s a means of organised survival in a perverse way.

Amandla: Tell me this thing of coloured identity amongst young people and their attraction to…

JV: To that? Well all I can tell you is that: firstly, starting with the Number, if you understand the language it redefines everything human. You speak a new language. You have new symbols through which you look at reality. You have a new… there’s nothing that gives you that sense of identity in Hanover Park. [unclear]. You do not walk around fearfully anymore being preyed on by other gangs because you are a [unclear]. The stronger your gang is. If you are an HL people think twice before dealing with you, unless it’s an American from [unclear] side, where you are killed automatically. But, wherever, it is the brand. It is the power that comes with that myth of what he represents. You know, if I approach you for something and ask you for money like a 26 would – ‘can you please give me some money’. You don’t know the guy from a bar of soap. That is a nice shirt you have. You don’t know the guy, but you know that he’s a 26, that he comes with that. You give your scarf and you give your shirt and money. You understand what I’m trying to say. It’s the type of power that comes with being […?]. The power of shooting somebody and being a hit-man and knowing somebody else is going to take the fall. Where do you get that [unclear]. So that is what I’m trying to say. The number makes a philosophy out of it, makes a belief system out of it. You get told all these myths about the great fight between [unclear] and the eight stars falling form the sky and the seven start falling into the green grass…

Amandla: It sounds religious.

JV: Ja, it really is. It’s so encapturing that it’s easy to become part of it. And with the whole secrecy of prison, you won’t know the whole number, the whole story you can only know once you are Makwezi[?] in the 26s, which is above the rank of a fighting general. We will give you a little bit which is particular to your number, the compartmentalisation. And for those who are young it’s exciting [whispers] I want to be up there, I want to be a [?] I want to be a captain. These things come at a price.

Amandla: Tell me, the Pagad vigilante phenomenon of the late ’90s right. Now they took out quite a few people…

JV: Maybe some of them were drug dealers themselves…

Amandla: How significant was it in disrupting the leadership and creating a vacuum…

JV: It didn’t. You see the popular myth is one thing. The reality we know on the ground is something different. Let me take an example. You know what the HLs did in response to Rashaad Staggie. Firstly, they kidnapped a driver. They wanted his father because his father was in the video, they studied the video. They gave an instruction: every single one on that video must be killed with the exception of the [journalist?]. So what they did is [unclear] because we went the guy who did that, one of the HL guys. And then his father didn’t [bribe?] so they decided to kill him. Another old man whose family was from Portland but he lived behind Wembley. He was kidnapped and tortured by the HLs and the Americans. They banded together. Together with [unclear] and those guys from Kensington. They decided to eliminate everyone. They kidnapped him, they killed him. There was delivery chap also. They had the memorial… not a memorial, the usual thing at the house, they went in and killed four of them, four of the people there including his daughter and his son and other family members. This is what I’m trying to tell you: there’s a time at which Pagad realised this comes at costs. And you must understand the dominant leadership of Pagad were middle class kids. Maybe smoked mandrax and some of them…

Amandla: [inaudible]

JV: Ja, they were middle class kids, with the exception of a chap like Ebrahim Jennike [sp?] who was a working class boy from Mannenburg. He had the guts to walk up to you and shoot you straight in your head and those kinds of things. He had that. None of these Adbusalaam Ebrahims [sp] – fine they had the theory – but they didn’t have enough [unclear] to put guts to the theories. The working class boys from these areas had the guts to do the jobs. Here and there [unclear]… but the moment some of them tasted prison then everything collapsed, all that theory. But the chaps with the guts…

Amanddla: So you mean taking out the core and that disrupted nothing.

JV: No, it doesn’t matter. The structure is an organism that reproduces itself, okay. It doesn’t matter who it is. It even takes out its own leaders if those leaders don’t support the functioning of the structure. Rashid Staggie and his brother were at the start of the Hard Livings. The Hard Livings now is an organism way beyond what it was when we sent him to prison 10-11 years ago.

Amandla: How?

JV: For example, when he was in one of the unique things he had, because his brother was a 28 general and he was a 26 general, that’s what made that gang so unique – it was the only gang that combined both 26s and 28s in one fold under a different identity. You do not get that in other places. It’s either 28 or 26, your Fancy Boy and you 28 or your American and your 26 in some other cases. That was unique. And that, Rashaad Staggie died, then the first group started going [unclear], those 28s that were part of it started having issues with Rashid’s 26 leadership. But the other thing about Rashid, because he’s a fighting general in the 26s, at his level he makes decisions in a highly centrist way. And a fighting general in the prison system controls what you call [Zomkhozi], all the wealth of the gang, determines the distribution. He applied that to his own gang. So he had a very centralist way of controlling. When he went to prison, as happens with all of these things, all of those things collapsed. And for a while the Staggies’ [unclear] disappeared as a feature. They broke up into separate chapters – Watson stayed in Mannenburg, Donovan went to Ocean View, the other guy Gareth went to Mitchell’s Plain, other guys went to Delft [sp?]. So they took a piece of the wealth with them, transplanted the franchise to those areas, but it wasn’t really what it was when it was [unclear] district 6 thing. They spread that.

Amandla: Was it [appointment?]

JV: No, simply because there was a vacuum. Staggie never developed second layer leadership. [unclear]. He’s a Number man.

Amandla: So there’s a hierarchy.

JV: The number follows a strict type of progression with certain acts that must be fulfilled at certain times in your history to achieve a certain thing. Staggie didn’t empower his people. Watson and them were [unclear]… They never really gave these people something. When he went in, people came together and said okay, I’m going my way and that’s how they did it. He will not be able to, if he comes out, like he is now and he wants to take control of that, they will kill him. If he comes there again with his fighting general number. Do you know how it works? If you’re an officer in the Numbers, 28s, if I walk around outside and say who’s that there, oh he’s 26. I say hoe gaan dit and the guy must recognise me. If he doesn’t recognise me it’s a problem. And part of that recognition involves recognising that because I’m the senior year, your camp is part of my camp, and because your camp is part of mine your assets are part of my assets, so if need money to survive you will give it to me. So those are the kind of things that come with that.

Amandla: So if ever…

JV: If ever, they will kill him. I’m telling you they’ll kill him. And he doesn’t have that fear amongst the soldiers. You see, the base level of the HLs now are younger guys who would never in his time been HLs. Staggie and Rashaad had this thing where you can be lighty here and once you get older and show your guts and you become a Hard Livings gang member. But then you must be [unclear]. Do you understand? You can see the photos, the people around Staggie earlier, you can see its older guys, late 20s and that, not 15/16 year olds. A lot of them now… while he was in prison the HLs who were outside needed to defend their ranks against the Americans [unclear]. They recruited all these younger guys into their fold. That’s why that boy was shot at [?], he was an HL. He came from the Stuper[?] Gang that was incorporated into the HLs. You understand. That’s part of that particular process. But those lighties are unpredictable. I mean what does fighting general mean to them

Amandla: So he’s a man of yesterday?

JV: He’s a man of yesterday. The best thing for him to do is for him to sort of… I was the one opposing his [stutters]…

[inaudible]

JV: You know, I tried everything with this thing. I was saying firstly, okay fine, correctional services is saying in terms of internally your record is clean and you’re rehabilitated. But I’m not here to measure you in terms of what correctional services says, you might have been an angel inside. I’m talking about what you are outside. You are a fighting general in the 26s. By the way you are the most senior person in prison at this moment in the 26s gang in this country. Secondly, you are still regarded as the leader of the Hard Livings[?] gang, one of the most powerful gangs in Mannenburg. What are you going to do with that to do something constructive outside? Then he shocked me entirely; he said no he’s going to denounce the number. I said do you know what that means, and he said ja no he’s prepared to take… and he went on and said that God told him to do it. The second thing is that I said but the HLs, that’s another matter entirely. He said no then he’ll denounce the HLs too. And on that ticket he convinced the other people on the parole board. The parole board are civilians, ne. We just come, correctional services come and say we did this [unclear] with the guy and say this is the problem. So he convinced them. But he can’t go back. If he goes back he’s going to die. Now I’m not convinced that, you know… Rashid is also a certified sacrifice. Certified.

[inaudible]

JV: Not allegedly, certified, that medical thing, because he was treated. No I’m not sure whether you know… that is a different type of mindset. A person who is used to the type of power that man has. I really don’t know.

Amandla: It doesn’t relinquish that easy hey?

JV: It’s not easy. I mean, in the Numbers, I’m telling you another 26 lighty comes up and tells him fuck you, who are you? He’s going to react from another instinct.

Amandla: Tell me we’ve…

JV: What I want you to understand is the class dimension, the material dimension of all the things. When we talk about gangs and response, we’re talking about the development of policing.

Amandla: This is fascinating stuff.

JV: Policing. Colonial policing was about protecting class interests.

Amandla: If you could just suggest any readings or any sort of things to investigate we’d really appreciate that.

JV: Okay, if you really want to.

Amandla: I really want to

JV: One of the most brilliant writers on the early history is Charles van Onselen

Amandla: Yeah I’ve read his…

JV: Get a paper of his titled ‘Regiment of the Hills’

Amandla: I think I’ve got it.

JV: Read that. He writes a small book, I think ‘A Matter of a Small Horse’ but that’s one thing. If you want to understand the environment he’s by far the authority on the earlier period.

Amandla: That New Babylon book I’ve gotten. I haven’t read it but I’ve got it.

JV: [inaudible] is it out already?

Amandla: It’s been out for a while. I’ve got an old edition from like 20 years ago.

JV: Okay, I wrote something as a manual to instruct people on the Number and the language and all those things. Read Steinberg’s[?] stuff because he consulted with me.

Amandla: Yeah, the Number?

JV: The Number. But if you understand the story of that general he’s telling you’ll understand what he’s going to face on the outside. That is to see what such a person has to go through. What else is there?… But coming back to the… [inaudible – something about Steinberg’s book The Number] That is the one he consulted with me on. I’ll tell you how The Number came about. I know Jonny quite well because he did some work in Pollsmoor and he wrote a small track. And then he was referred to me in terms of the Number from guys in prison, because they told him he’s a cop who knows the language and can speak the thing. So he ended up speaking to me and I ended up giving him those things I wrote. But, one thing, what happened there is the actual chap he interviews I got from prison to speak to him. Okay so what I did is: I told him, you record that chap to tell you exactly as he says.

Amandla: Are you talking about…

JV: Yeah [inaudible]. So I said then you bring it to me and I’ll interpret what he says, and I’ll tell you he’s bullshitting you here and those kind of things. So that is how the relationship has been. So that’s an important book but from the personal type of dimension. But when you look at the early history that will be that. What else… You see most of these 80s, 90s period you won’t get stuff. [Don Pinnock sp?] wrote but he mostly focused on the youth phenomena. Some of his understandings about the number were faulty. Because he didn’t understand the language you see. The symbols, the slight shift in a tattoo between, you know those pillars that they have opened and close, between where the sun is positioned. Those types of dynamics you need to understand in order to do that. But, coming back to the peoples’ policing notion, you’ll probably pick up in the media that the people, the city has quite an issue with [unclear] my criticism of programs like Ceasefire and those kind of things. Part of the reason is: the issue is that there are people who if you organise them correctly can deal with these problems at grassroots level. You know you just need to tap into it. You don’t need easy recipes from other countries to deal with it. But the most important thing is: I want you to look at, there’s a model that I’ve been arguing some of the street committees in Mitchell’s Plain should start looking at. [Stutters] Okay let me explain. In Latin America in San Salvador, after the conflict there emerged a lot of youth gangs.

Amandla: Yeah like MS13 [sp?]

JV: Ja, Mara [sp?], they called them collectively the Mara across that whole belt from Mexico. [tries to remember a name]

Amandla: The one based in LA?

JV: It started in San Salvador

Amandla: Yeah so we’re talking about MS13.

JV: I’m talking about the original group

Amandla: Yeah.

JV: Go look at their approach. Their approach says that in areas where the state materially has been unable to deliver, and in San Salvador parts where policing also does not deliver, the only approach to the problem involves transforming those very structures. That’s the first premise. If the gangs are the cause of the conflict, try and transform them into something else. It has a philosophy, a four prong strategy: the first part involves reconnecting the gang member to the other organised structures of his normal life, the family. So they have a big particular program dealing with, if you were part of that, reconnecting you with the family. So a lot of their social investment foes into that. And they’ve aligned certain progressive organisations to be focussing on funding and activism around building families in the areas where the gangs were strong. Reconnection. It’s a vert concrete level. The other part involves, after you’ve done that or you’ve got them off drugs, getting all the drugs is not a chemicalised process in only that. They [?] social links. For social links you need community communication. That type of principle. So that have a lot of emphasis on that instead of only emphasis on rehabilitation by taking you away to a place or that kind of thing. They don’t have that kind of notion, they’re primary level is primary level care. The third dimension is after you’ve gone through this process, you’re integrated via the family, your problems are being dealt with, your gang becomes a civic structure.

Amandla: A civic structure?

JV: Yes, let’s continue. Or part of the civic movement that exist. To agitate against the material conditions that produce you. But as part of normal… You’re not doing it as the Mara or that, now you’re doing it as part of this. But we’re taking that principle that you have of cohesion within the gang, and transplanting it and channelling the thing to a different program. So you see you start from the micro [inaudible]. So that is it, but that whole process involves empowering the people and building capacity amongst the people. You know it doesn’t involve foreign funded advocacy.

Amandla: And that’s contrary to the entire myth and plans for development here.

JV: Ja contrary to the Ceasefire thing. You understand this involved empowering people. That is the important difference in the way we look at the thing. That is a good international precedent.

Amandla: If you can send us a link we’ll definitely check it out.

JV: I can.

Amandla: We’ll get your details from you, your email.

JV: Okay but that is a practical example because they work under conditions similar to that, and in studying gangs…

Amandla: Tell me, in Mannenburg the Ceasefire thing is a crazy thing because it all it allows is for the drug thing to go on. It’s a veneer.

JV: No the only reason you can get an agreement between people is on their terms and their framework, not yours. And that’s what we’ve been trying to tell priests and all these idealists who’re trying to do these things.

Amandla: On whose terms?

JV: On the gang terms. Because you go into a meeting and you open up and you chair, it happened to the chap who started the ISS, they went and started chairing the meeting and it was the HLs and the Americans and the Clever Kids from that time in the early 90s. So they went into this meeting and then the guys spoke a whole different language, and then for two hours they couldn’t understand what the hell the people were saying . When they finished people walked out and thanked them for bringing them together for this meeting saying there’s peace now, you can go and make your press announcement. But what literally had happened is the following. Okay. You kill the captain of our side, we won’t kill… you don’t have a captain in your gangs, so three sergeants will be fine, their blood will be fine in equivalent to that. But, we don’t want an incident so you kill your guys yourselves. So we’re equivalent in the levels of blood. It was exchanged. Secondly we fought about this part of Mannenburg. Okay fine, we agree in terms of the street sales. You can put three more guys but with the Clever Kids it was the taxi being taxed as they come into Mannenburg off Duinerfontein Road. [unclear] I’ll have a [unclear] and you’ll. have a [unclear]. Because the fight was about, by the time you pay your taxes the taxi will be gone down…

Amandla: So you’ll split you protection racket?

JV: Yes. Say okay fine. The HLs, the Clever Kids that time of the war they were sitting on a gold mine. Because as you come into those flats that was their territory. By the time they tax you you don’t have money to pay further down as you go down. That’s what the war was about. It wasn’t about drugs. The Clever Kids were not even into drugs at that point in time, it’s only much later because of the protection route entry from Duinerfontein road, there wasn’t a Nyanga junction. And it just so happened that these Clever Kids happened to be there and they taxed the taxis as the only source of income. But in this meeting I’m talking about was, okay we’ll share with the HLs, not the noble idealism of the guy who went to [?]. You sit there and you get [?], like this MEC who sits there and gets cut out. Then they tell him afterwards [whispers]… and he believes all of this. All they needed, because at some stage having this constant war is bad for business because it attracts major policing, so they needed a party to get them together because they would not get together normally. Okay so only this neutral party of a priest or imam can bring them together. But once they’re there they serve no purpose. Their own agreements and their code determines that. You see, so I don’t see anything in the ceasefire. This thing doesn’t take symptomatic solutions. Like that [unclear] program that I’m talking about its long term, it’s transformative, it’s programmatic. You work to change according to a programme. You don’t come with fire brigade type of tactics.

Amandla: But fire brigade tactics are good for election time.

JV: No well that’s why I don’t do it. I don’t believe. It’s a monumentous waste of state resources, like this Mannenburg thing in the schools. Why go to the schools? The threat was never really on the schools, the threat was on the streets neighbouring the schools.

Amandla: Sure. So the strategy of open up rehabs and…

JV: Rehabs are for certain levels of specialised treatment but the moment we follow the neo-liberal model of commodifying treatment for what is a social ill, we create problems. I’m not saying that level of specialisation is not required. It is. But the mainstay of what you do should be preventative work involving the power of the community through the structures of the community. And that is a skill the community have. You must just bring them together and mobilise them in that way. You don’t need foreign funding. You don’t need to inject specialist experts or academics to do that. People know how to do these things. The poor have the most amazing… how do you think they survived under the conditions of Elsie’s River after all these years, generation after generation. There must be some collective capacity to that. If you can take it, organise it, and mobilise it in that particular way minus all the political ballgames that are being played, you have an amazing resource. But I mean you live in a neo-liberal type of environment.

[unclear, interviewer asks about an acronym VPU]

JV: Violence Protection Unit? [unclear] Firstly let’s talk about that. That program [?] gentrification, and used Woodstock as an example. It comes from Chicago, the neo-liberal model [unclear]. Where it’s the same type of thinking. Out-upgrade [?] the problem. All you do is dislocate it. So Woodstock used to be a problem so we gentrify Woodstock and the problem can’t afford to stay there any more so they more to [Tafels…?] If you transplant that to areas in Mannenburg it’s the same principal. What happens is all [unclear] you take this area you build it up primarily business orientated. You ensure it has proper security, try enforce policing to sort of centre itself around it, and you hope the impact of that would further move away… but that doesn’t happen. You improve the material conditions where they are, make it even. It doesn’t start with developing a middle class, that is a myth. There is no middle class to develop homegrown in Khayalitsha. Wherever you build, if you build down the promenade you bring in big capital. It will be the Pick ‘n Pays, the Woolworths, all the big ones. That doesn’t impact on crime. What I can tell you, on the large size of the mall where there used to be low-cost housing they suddenly disappear because you’ve displaced them. So it’s a perverse solution. But my biggest problem is that it focuses on the development only of the petty bourgeoisie and their material needs, which represent a very minute part of that whole infrastructure [on?] Mitchell’s Plain. And once again it forces policing into a protective model of a class enclave inside those areas. One of the biggest complaints I used to have against [?] is there’s no vans around the promenade. I’m more concerned with vans and dogs, really, than whether Woolworths gets robbed. Because Woolworths ploughs nothing into it. They are just Woolworths, they are [?] in the middle of the place. So that’s the first tactic. So if one is talking about violence prevention through [unclear] that is part of a full package of looking at all levels of material deprivation that contributes to the type of criminality. But then you must be doing something [unclear], then you must actually be [?], then we’re talking about footprints, infrastructure like business, all of those things. The whole notion to me, is quite averse to you know, that we need to be worried whether capital is here because if capital is here then everything is going to grow – its bullshit. That type of thinking informs that type of thing. That’s why my ideological position is that but from a policing position it just imposes, that type of philosophy sometimes imposes the frame or model of policing, I should put it that way

Amandla: And what you said earlier, if you actually look at grassroots the poor have tremendous agency.

JV: Of course

Amandla: And would you say that in terms of the developmental state we’ve lost that?

JV: I have a different understanding of the state, I don’t believe in this development state notion.

Amandla: In terms of what is there. Is there any…

JV: The problem with the kind of developmental state model as it is argued here, it rests on the same assumptions as the VPVU [?] approach. Bring capital and develop a middle class and that is the ultimate solution to the problem. I don’t share those sentiments. I’m saying you measure society by the material difference it made to the poorest section of society. That is the yardstick. [unclear] What difference does it make to the rural poor and the most destitute in our environment, that is the measure, that is the yardstick, not whether we have Woolworths in Mitchell’s Plain or Nyanga. It’s a perverse type of contradiction. I think that’s the sense in which I look at it. Because what does this investment mean? How much local labour that progresses to benefit beyond the casual labour has gone into Pick n pay’s in the promenade? Pick ‘n Pay on the promenade runs with casual labour.

Amandla: It leaves no plumbers behind or architects…

JV: Even the building of that type of thing, they say they advance local, and then you come to it people are doing the [?] job, the skilled artisans are not being utilised in those thing. Because of unnecessarily complicated corporate tender type of things. I’m not saying we must relax it but what I’m trying to say is the whole tender process as it comes with some of these things has to do, in the business part, you need a team of corporate lawyers and massive infrastructure in order to qualify. [unclear]

Amandla: The corporates are basically commercialising simple service delivery.

JV: Commodifying it.

Amandla: Yes, commodifying it.

JV: There are some things that should not be commodified.

Amandla: Yes and what is this call for foreign investment but a call basically to break up unions.

JV: The interesting thing is the conflict within the city around the water meters things. What happened is the street committee infrastructures that we had created led the anti-water meter campaign in [Talfels?]. People were saying the police are behind this [unclear]. And ti was generating… Eventually they wanted us to tackle them. I said no. This system you’re introducing here, you’ve commodified the basic service delivery of water to people in this environment. It is what is causing your council trucks to be stoned. You’re being chased out of a meeting? I’m not going to police that, why must I police that. The factor that generated some problems, and a lot of people have problems with that…

JV: The type of demand that is constantly articulated through the (army); there are two things that I’m quite clear about: One is that I listen to media commentary and analysts. It is an entirely middle class type of demand. It is significant that where that demand is made is usually from communities, middle class sections of the community who are border in the working class areas where the gang problem is. In other words it’s Lavender Hill in relation to Muizenburg.

A: Can you expand on this?

JV: Yes. It’s Mannenburg in relation to the affluent suburbia. That’s the first problem. It is never in terms of where the problem is more prevalent, which is the Nyanga area, the deeper parts you go into Mitchell’s Plain. There we never have that demand. The other part of it that makes it quite suspicious from a class point of view: it is always in areas where the children of the working class are attending schools in a cross-over area across the border in suburbia, so the demand becomes stronger because Lavender Hill kids are also attending school up in [?] or in other areas. So it is those factors that influence a lot…

A: The free movement of labour?

J: Yes, the labour issue. If you are sitting in Constantia or Kirstenbosch and your concerned about Lavender Hill is about the child who works in your house that’s a different thing. So a lot of the concerns comes from a perverted sense of looking at the problem. The problem is the supply of labour to [?]… and that to me is the wrong way of doing it. Because if you don’t look at that that’s the convenient way to ignore the fact that people live in Tafelsig 20 in a house. And that causes tensions and those problems that there’s a limit of resources. You don’t want to look at that so you gloss over these other factors to justify it. So that is the one part that I want to make clear. So it’s more about the demand for containment. And the other thing to me is the type of morality that says that you use a militarised approach to dealing with the problem is an approach that says everybody there is the same, so you treat the whole of Lavender Hill like a battlefield. Now I’m a trained soldier also so I know from that perspective, that we must move in as infantry, cordon sanitaire, and deal with it. In that approach you do not apply discrimination between the people who are really the problem and… It is the type of logic…

A: And aren’t you asking a military reaction as well?

J: Sire

A: And are the military even trained for these situations?

J: And we have a constitution where in policing we are forced to justify every single act we do constitutionally. We cannot decide: we’re not quite sure but somewhere somebody is busy with drugs in Rochester Hill [sp?], we’re going to cordon [Rochester Hill] from the top to the bottom. I mean, that is the easy way out but that is what a military type of mindset will do – treat everybody as a hostile, the ground as hostile. So that is the path that comes with it. But a lot of that logic comes around to thinking: contain that thing there, just don’t let it spill over to our side. So those are some of the class dimensions to me which is a fundamental problem.

A: And also there are two sides to this question. One is that are the military even trained to deal with this situation?

J: No, no they are not. They are not. Let me be clear, they’re not. Where we in the past have used military, I’m going to tell you about a specific type of competency. Like for example, we don’t have the capacity to cover the abalone deep-sea smuggling operations from the coast straight to the link-up of ships. We don’t have the capability in policing, we’re a land-based resource, so the navy assist us with that. We do not, for example, have long-range chopper capabilities. Most of the choppers you see are urban, so the Oryx of the air force do good work for us in terms of the policing where you have to go large expansive distances and those kind of things. So those are the things. It is never base on the boots-on-the-ground type of thing, because boots on the ground must react when there’s a problem. And if I am deployed with an R5 walking through Manenburg and I’m an infantry trained person, and I get shot at, I’m going to activate my squad and concentrate fire. We’re going to start with suppression fire on the problem, and if you understand what suppression fire is it’s not aimed. It comes generally force, we suppress, and then we move in to flank the enemy. So those are the full logics. A police officer will never think like that. The emphasis would be: I want to find the one person.

A: So you’re acting on the way you were trained?

J: Yes, right. And if you’re not trained for that then you cannot act in that way.

A: The other question I have is: in some sense I feel that these calls for military intervention are just sort of political posturing that is not going to happen. It’s just a way at sort of like one-upmanship, and exploiting the issue for political gain rather than being any sort of serious proposal.

J: You see the call for military intervention in crime situations [inaudible], it’s usually an issue that is voices quite strongly for the middle class. Let’s take the States – when did cocaine become an issue in the States with the [?] cartel, that necessitated its declaration as a clear present danger therefore requiring military intervention? When? Was it at the time when it affected working class? No, it is when the working class trafficking started moving into your suburban middle class areas

[inaudible]

J: And that’s all over. Even go now to Russia. The Russian mafia they were always there… exactly the same. But the moment they started moving into the more urban environment where your engagement is now the middle class, then all these extreme types of actions – bringing in the special force, sending the Delta Force in – those things become articulated. So it has always been tied more to the interests of the middle class and the sentiments expressed by them.

A: And then of course the symbolism here of sending the military into the townships is…

J: Ya. What happens is I asked, when I was in Claremont when they sent me there, I listened carefully to the way people in Sea Point [?] talk. They talk about, yo know, people must patrol more and search people more on the streets of Claremont and all those things. Now when you ask them who, then they will say no people who commute in and out, they bring the problem here. Now do you understand what I’m trying to get at? You always, with those types of methods, of extreme methods, it’s an approach of containment here, and keeping us from being contaminated.

A: It’s the other.

J: It’s the other. Now in crime there’s no other in this. There’s no other in fighting crime here. There is no difference between a rape occurring in Camps Bay and one in Khayalitsha, it is a rape? Like I told you the [Meriwether…?]. If that had happened in Manenburg you would have had serious [?] and all those kind of things

A: Tell me what kind of audience is there in the police services for you analysis?

J: Let me tell you, what I’m telling you now is only possible… Okay, the police is contested. It’s one of the largest state organs that exists. The prevalence of these ideas and their spread… it’s like a normal [war…?] position hegemonically [?], but because of the these things, whether or not you understand the work in […?], you are going to do it. You’ll even use the exact words also. It doesn’t mean you understand it, you know it. What I’m trying to say is that it’s one of the disturbing things of our environment, that’s why it can be so open to abuse. So a lot of it depends on the leadership and what not, and I’ll be honest with you although you’re not going to write this… but I’ll tell you that in the Western Cape there’s Peter Jacobs. Now Peter Jacobs and me were on Robben Island together, so people understand [we are a meeting of minds?]. He studied policing in some other countries I studied [in?], so we’re both Marxists, so we both think in the same way. We are able to articulate what we do in operational terms because we are operationally well-trained. You understand? So we are people to be this counter-hegemonic force against, for example, other you look at. So what I’m telling you is, where it is which influences, it is us who brought our influence, that’s why we located ourselves more in the working class part of the town. Because we wanted to firstly bring the resources. And that we’ve done successfully strategically, otherwise you would never have had Nyanga station…

A: And this is a legacy of that?

J: Ja, that footprint is part of that. But at the strategic level, like I said, where we are now we influence things differently. [inaudible]

A: The other question I want to ask [background noise] – and this isn’t necessary going to be published, it’s more for curiosity – so what is your feeling on how much the police are [inaudible]

J: Okay, firstly I do not believe that – and this is not because of the DA, I’ve said the same things about [?] – I do not believe in a police incompetence and I’ll tell you why. It’s one of the most powerful, it can be one of the most powerful infringing capabilities the state can use to people’s democratic rights. There’s nothing else that is as powerful as that, not even the army, the police as a security, as an oppressive apparatus, it’s one of the most powerful. I believe that it needs, in order to maintain constitutional control, it needs a very centrist form of political control, let me not confuse this with party control, constitutional control. And given that we’re dealing with such a sensitive institution it needs sometimes to be regulated quite rigidly, so that you not have the discretion of a provincial commissioner what we had in the Marikana case. You understand? Now the same applied to municipal capabilities, even more so. A municipal capability deals with violation of bylaws, which to me, one part of it is, they’re not subject to the same constitutional scrutiny that we are. For example, they can do a [?], you build here and extend that. I’ll tell you what’s the difference between what we can do and they can do. They can come here, give you a warning, give you a notice, and if you don’t do it they break it down. Me as a police officer will never be able to do something like that, I’ll have to jump through a few constitutional rules, get an interdict, go through a whole process. A lot of what the bylaw part of their work often results in is very weakly regulating type of controls to prevent human rights violations. Think about it. And I think such functions should be brought up into a much more controlled central capacity that is constitutionally governed much more tighter than at the moment. I’ll take a practical example: the issue of street vendors.

A: A recent example.

J: Okay, what makes you fine for you to it at Belville station but not in St George’s? I want to tell you there is a regulation that it must be done and we must regulate it. But I want to show you how class interest and things play a role. They will then interpret it that in the central we will not allow this or we will police it in that way. In Belville or in Mitchell’s Plain town centre because of the stalls, because it’s their constituency and all that, we’re not going to apply it. Now that opens up, because of municipal policy, it opens up the process to political manipulation. You either do one thing. You either tackle the vendor under the bylaw that you might create from Khayalitsha right through to Camps Bay, irrespective of colour or whatever. You either do it collectively or you don’t, but the municipal process, because a municipality who governs this city in a neo-liberal urban environment it’s the business interests and investors that determine what we police what they police in that level or not. You understand. Now there are such powerful interests regulating it and determining the footprint of municipal policing around bylaws, it’s a problem. It’s even more tied to that, at least with us. Surely we can get a Marikana situation and we can be dealt with. With them, they’re not accountable at that level. And they can violate people’s rights. They can come into your yard, check your things. I can’t even come into your yard. I can’t come into your yard, open your gate and come and move into your space.

A: And can we have some examples of this?

J: Ja, [inaudible]. Those are some of the things. And the issue of revenue collection and policing that and the municipal thing gets involved. Like the Tafelsig water metre situation, the housing thing in terms of the [Kapteinsklip?] people. What do those issues have to do with policing? You know what might have something to do with policing is if they stat throwing petrol bombs and killing some people. Then we can talk about a violation in law that is requiring police action. But you putting up, taking your family and going to live in [?] Nature Reserve really has nothing to do with us. It has nothing.

A: It’s the same situation up there in Gauteng. So there’s no protocol possible.

J: Ja, but you see that is precisely the problem, these ‘Red Ants’, they’re not accountable to police, because policing there took a stance we don’t do. And this is where the manipulation of what I’m saying the problem with municipal capabilities is. So then they create that in order to do that, for the local, they also have a municipal police augmented by the thing. It has nothing to do with us, nothing to do with us. The execution of a [land issue?] subject to a court process [?] is something that gets executed by the sheriff. Unless the sheriff knows that he’s going to be killed or there’s clear, clear present danger to that, then they can ask us to come around. But even if we are there, our job is making sure that he’s not attacked. We have no engagement beyond that. We are not there… you understand that strong… Like I said, the thing about municipal interests determine, which is to me always class interests, determining the footprint at the municipal level, that to me is what fundamentally goes wrong. They are more prone to be abused by whatever class interests are dominant in a particular municipality. [inaudible…] …go to Marmesbury

A: So how come that the cops in Joburg resisted that being part of their [inaudible] and it’s not done here?

J: What cops are you talking about. The South African police?

A: Ja. The Metro, the anti-land invasion unit is not part of it…

[inaudible]

J: Okay, the state is a contested terrain and so is the police. I, for example, having had a practical, I absolutely refused to serve at schools, because I don’t believe in criminalising [inaudible] and I don’t believe in an unconstitutional practice because you are lazy to establish exactly who is the problem in the school, you try to take the short route and subject the kids to the same repressive arm. I understand you know it’s your son and we go, and we get him, and we take him out of the environment, and we search him, and we get it. I don’t need to search the whole school. That understanding is based on using police to scare people. We are not there to scare. There is nothing in our constitution that says that our function is to make you afraid of us. Okay. But that might be me there. In the immediate neighbouring cluster in Nyanga they do it. It’s a normal thing. You understand what I’m trying to get to. So a lot of these things come from contested terrain, different paradigms are interacting, and it takes place within the police now, let alone the metro police. Metro police is a different matter. Okay. You know, I came, and when I was confronted with this class dynamic, there was a short period when they said I must rest a bit so they put me here at this Claremont [?]. So one of the first things I did was to check compliance, so I went down the main road and I took my [inaudible], and I said, let’s look at how many of these people here have liquor licences. Two, even if they do whether they’re violated. Three, whether or not they have business. We went into [?] and there were people without liquor licences!

[Laughing]

J: We went into that whole main road section in front of [?] and not a single one, or one or two of them, had transferred, had kept the licence there of the business that was there, a pub, in 1963. Now, I want you to understand something. I want you to keep that in mind, and look at however the city is now onto its whole liquor policing. We must deal with shebeens and [inaudible]… it’s a big hoo-ha. If we are saying the argument that liquor produces, contributes to that, that we’re saying not on the basis of direct causation, but we say on the basis of two coincidental prevalence’s – there’s high murder and there’s a lot of liquor. If you even want to use that [pattern?], and you want to draw that linkage, you’re going to have to apply the laws similarly elsewhere, because the risk is the same whether it results in Nyanga in a murder or a lot of people driving drunk down Claremont Main Road. It results in acts of criminality. So one would expect that you would be as rigid in the policing of the compliance here, as you would over there. If you are saying that [the big campaign is to sit here…?] and we must go clear the children out of the shebeens and we go and there’s massive things and everybody clear up, you ought to imbibe that logic… unless you’re drawing a distinction between people and saying that the crime there and the same crime committed somehow has an elevated degree of seriousness than compared to here. So, what I’m trying to say, you understand, if you look at something as simple as that you’ll see what I’m talking about actually.

A: Just in terms of symbolic acts [that show that they’re in charge [??]].

J: Ja, that’s what policing is about. That is what policing is about.

A: Deterrent policing?

J: Ja, policing and being seen with the big guns…

A: I guess from the city’s perspective it symbolises we’re in charge, we mean business, this is how we are in charge.

J: Ja, there’s no different policing for different places. I deal a lot with that in my [college?]. I tell them what is good for Nyanga and Mitchell’s Plain is good for Cape Town…

A: You say that from precinct to precinct there’s different cases?

J: Sometimes there’s different approaches.

A: There’s still only two metropoles here.

J: Yes.

A: East and West.

J: Ja. But I want to explain it from the class, the contesting… One factor is the old way of doing things. The other one is, you go speak to a cop here in Claremont and ask him, [[inaudible] go talk to him, say you better go work there, and he’ll say no I don’t want to work amongst those people in…[??]] But what is he actually saying? How is he relating to his function in relation to the constituency in which he works. He’s taking, absorbing the mantle of that constituency. For example, a housebreaking in Mitchell’s Plain is a serious crime. Why, because you’re busy paying off this thing. Most likely you’ve skipped a few months and you paid this. That thing is worth that BMW 5 series to that person. So it becomes important. However the police officer there would therefore be treating such a matter seriously. Down here in these areas people are not interested in catching the crook. They’re interested in the insurance so all they need is the number, then they have nothing to do with you. Some of them don’t even want you in their house. You understand?

[inaudible, laughter]

J: They just need [??]. The policing here often tailors itself around that. Understand? This thing of class influecing things is very, very real. The notion of business against crime, in this country, being a constituency, engaging policing as a constituency comes from where? Where? There is only one constituency in policing and that is the community. And whether they [??] or whatever, their particular class interests, theoretically, ought not to determine the rules of engagement with them, you understand. But we are so far into this process where it becomes normal to say that part of our partners of engagement should be business against crime as a constituency. And [inaudible]. The moment that we distinguish, and most of these distinctions are class, are interest-determined, and that is wrong. Understand?

A: Sure, sure.

J: Your private interests can’t determine policing, especially if they are economic interests. But at a broader macro thing in the general Marxist way, is… what we’re trying to transform internationally a lot of us, is linking police to private property. To property. You see, because the history of the way policing was formed, it was tied to the bourgeois notion of property. The consequent model of policing comes from the age of industrialisation. In [Robert Peel’s] time in Britain it was about the barrier between London East End and the more wealthy middle class. So that was policing. And that class type of understanding of policing is what influenced [??] everywhere. It still becomes that, down to the location to where you have stations, to how things are [??]. So even the concept of patrolling where you go, where do you see police officers patrol? To give you an example, where do you see them patrol? When you see them walking around.

A: Foot soldiers?

J: Ja, where do you see them? You see them here on the main road

A: CBD?

J: Yes, now the bulk of the crime is actually in the residential areas isn’t it. So you understand the point I’m making?

A: Yes.

J: It comes from the [Peel] scenario, where your first priority becomes the economic interests and the private property tied to those particular interests before you think about… So that’s what I’m trying to get to you. It’s not a South African, it’s an international thing. What we are trying to do is to divorce it. Roman Dutch law that we have here was about private ownership, that’s why you have crimes against the state, crimes against the person, and crimes against property. As distinct [inaudible] crimes against the person are the primary one, and whether the person has property is irrelevant, that’s an adjunct, you understand, to the issue. But because we must distinguish between these crimes we obviously have a different approach to policing private property. Crimes against the state, depending on who’s hegemonic in that state, is also determined sometimes by class interest. That’s why we talk about tourism as if policing tourism is the only thing in Cape Town. It’s about the revenue coming to a certain type of capital that we protect. We don’t talk about that. We cannot break the [?] here. Okay

A: Okay. Thanks a lot. Tell me, what do you say… a [??] comes into a [??] where I live. Have you ever heard about this. He says on of the problems is of Somali spaza shop owners who refuse to close down at a certain moment at night time because they don’t use the banking system they have lots of cash on them, so they attract crime onto themselves.

J: Can I explain, that definitely exposes a person to greater risk compared to another person, it has nothing to do with being a Somalian. Let me explain something to you. A lot of criminals operate around opportunity. And if you are open with a lot of cash they will get you. But it doesn’t have to do with you being a Somalian. For example, we had here even in the past six months British tobacco trucks being robbed. Do you know why? They changed their business model. They found out that they make more money instead of dealing with the legal retailer, dealing backhand with the spaza shops, because that is where they make money. So they changed their business model to get [??] and all these people to go and deliver directly to the spaza shop, and there they got targeted for robberies. Because in 100 spaza shops in one small block they’re collecting massive amounts of money, and they’re delivering large amounts of product, even more that the store around the corner, the legal store. So they created their business practice and opportunity and they got attacked. That’s how crime works. No criminal is attacking you for a xenophobic reason, because he wants you money. You walk down the street, they assess, they look at your clothes, okay let him go there’s no money[?]. Nothing to do with colour. They’re rational people criminals. If he’s there to rob you he must get something and he must get money and h assesses what to do. So that’s the first thing. It’s not about Somalians.

[inaudible]

J: That’s the one problem. There’s no evidence for crime being tied to ethnicity or national identity. Even this whole myth about Nigerians…

A: It’s nonsense you’re right.

J: But most of the times these myths are peddled to create these blanket type of oppressive approaches so we must all stop all Nigerians and that type of thing, it’s like the school thing – sInterview with Jeremy Vearey, Major-general in SAPS.

Please note: -. denotes an unfinished sentence

A!: Maybe you’d like to introduce yourself and your capacity.

JV: I am Jeremy Vearey. I am also a Major-general in the police service. I am responsible for the gangster activity in this province. I’ll go into what that distinctly is different from the way where we normally do. Apart from that I think in the interview it will become clear that I have a totally different perspective from what you officially would see that primarily comes from my Marxist part, as a Marxist within the ANC, the ANC tradition and particularly within the Western Cape, coming from also initially before uMkhonto weSizwe particularly involved in the civic movement and the youth movement in Elsies River – and so I come from a totally different background. My parents were activists, who are deceased now. My mother was part of that shift from the old SACTU to form the SACTU with Patel. And she wasn’t ANC, she had Trotsky approach while my father was more of a Congress chap; he ended up being an alderman, one of the first counsellors for the ANC in the Theewaterskloof region in Genadendal area. So that’s the kind of background – so when I speak so that you just understand that that’s the first thing. Secondly, when I do speak to you hear, I would as far as possible, the fact that I’m a police officer is anecdotal to what I’m going to tell you, it’s not the defining thing and I one would not want it to be projected that are speaking to a person and you define the person as a general police and that’s it, based [indistinct]. So that is the type of thing I think just to tell you that is the background. I am in my fifties, I’m fifty-years-old so I’ve been around.

A!: Can you start with the, come from the political background where you were.

JV: Yes, yes, initially if you understand my political history in Elsies River, Elsies River in the time I grew up, the dominant trend in the late ’70s early ’80s was and that’s understandable we had guys like Peter Isaacs and all those guys who were staying [indistinct]. The predominant influences was BC. It is only during the time when early ’80s when Johnny Issel as part of his banning ended up living in Elsies River that the tradition sort of shifted and more Congress influence came in, and in with the formation of CAHAC, CAYCO and all those organisations it became much more pronounced. And during that time the start of CAHAC and all those kind of sub-structures within that area it became a much -. But the identity and history of what shaped people particularly is not necessarily [the coalface/what carves this – unclear] – that’s what I want you to understand clearly. It is also distinctly left but there was not a strong Unity Movement present; so all my teachers were Unity Movement, John Ramsey in Elsies River and all those kinds of things. So those were the teachers and all those guys. But that was the type of environment. So I didn’t have a definitive organisational identity with them.

1983 I was recruited into uMkhonto weSizwe but that had to do with a different process, with a process that exposed me to certain figures who were active therefore interested in my involvement was much more clandestine. So I ended up in ’87 getting caught, going to Robben Island. I was a teacher also at some point in ’85 in Elsies River and I got involved with the type of alternative education work that Neville Alexander was involved at South African Council. It involved taking subjects like geography and translated it into an analysis of urban transformation and development on the Cape Flats from a Marxist perspective. One of the founding members with [Gabru – sounds like] [A!: Yusuf] Jean and them and those people of WECTU. So there’s no sectarian clear line – that’s what I’m trying to say. On the positive side it’s partly why myself and a few others, even on Robben Island when we were there, we were able to represent more of the critical left although we ended up in the SACP, but it was more of a critical left with, there was a counter to the kind of misunderstandings of organisation and those things. So we had a totally different way of looking at things. The advantage of the mass background as opposed to the insular Party underground structure, we were being exposed to Marxist thinking is that one’s understanding of the way one relates to mobilisation and to civil society was much more Gramsci in a way as opposed to distinctly Lenin or Party, a structuralist kind of model. So that’s the one advantage I think that comes with that. But I think the second thing was that one’s approach to the readings that one read was much more eclectic. If you were in the Party we’d probably only be exposed to Lenin. We were widely exposed in Elsies to Healey’s writings and fourth internationale literature like Mandel to stuff, people like David Harvey. Something a normal Leninist would be derided for– that’s what I’m trying to get to. So we had a much more wider thing as a result of that, it was the benefit.

A!: When did you start getting involved in the SAPS?

JV: I integrated into the SAPS. After I came out of prison, I was released in June 1990, I was immediately absorbed into the ANC’s intelligence structures. I had intelligence training and all those kinds of things too. I am trained detective, intelligence officer and intelligence instructor, VIP protection officer. So I was absorbed immediately into that and I ended up basically doing that all over the country, [in addition to – sounds like] the ID protection of certain ANC leadership figures but most of my work involved intelligence and security related .We at DISC

We

But in the process at a crucial time when the organisation and the irony is to [indistinct] Margaret Thatcher is through then trying to influence policy or security [indistinct] tried to approach the ANC to say that we need some your people and we can train them in that environment and Canada also wanted and the States. And the irony was they needed cadres who would not be swayed by that type of agenda, who were more ideologically grounded, if I should put it that way, in left to be pressed by all the trappings of that. So I was part of this group of cadreship. Some of us went to France and some went to [Germany – possible unfinished word] and I ended up in the UK, sort of [indistinct]. But I ended up with them and we spent time training there. I ended up also being sent to Canada and certain places to research different policing models from the west because our understanding of policing was primarily influenced by [however the ANC works/whatever the ANC wants – unclear]. So that was the type of tradition of policing. This is a totally different approach in some cases. So that’s essentially how it comes to that point.

A!: Over this period you must have been exposed to a variety of different influences which probably influenced you analysis now, both your own upbringing in Elsies River, the ANC, the period in Robben Island and your own period in SACP afterwards; so I’m just going to bring this interview towards focusing in Cape Town. So Andre and myself have thinking about sort of almost categorising different phases of gangsterism in Cape Town over the last 20-30 years and we’d be very interested to hear your -.

JV: It’s 200 [indistinct].

A!: We’re wondering what your perspective of -. As we’ve got it with the analysis that we have, an understanding that there’s one period of gangsterism, what happens after the ’70s and people get relocated all over the Cape Flats and the emergence of the first wave of gangs which emerged there. And then we get into the ’80s and people start making a bit more money off drugs and gangs such as the Hard Livings and the Americans start to gain power in certain areas. And as far as we can see this changes and gets a lot bigger as cocaine and crack start to get into the streets beyond just Mandrax and dagga which were the sort of primary drugs before. And then later whatever structure developed around cocaine and crack changed as a generation of gang leaders like the Staggies and Colin Stanfield* and all these guys get either assassinated or end up in jail. And then tik hits Cape Town and changes the face of gangsterism. It would be quite interesting to get your perspective.

JV: That will be the symptomatic way of looking at things. But let me first deal with the way I usually [cross-talk indistinct]. Let’s start with one of the key strands that is consistent over a hundred-and-odd years in gangs in this province and nationally. It is a Numbers gang and where they come from: 28s, 26s, 27s. Now those formations in the late 1800s was formed out of surplus labour for labour reserves, feeding the mines on the East Rand and in KwaZulu-Natal in particular, the coal mines. At that time a lot of those surplus labourers were between the rural areas and the urban mining compounds; banded together because they had no formal residential status, banded together and lived in the mountains and they operated as bandits. The first such formation, they called themselves Umkhosi Wezintaba — the Regiment of the Hills. They style themselves along the British army type of thing and a bit of the Anglo-Boer die generaal in later years, that’s only later. But this group of [lumpin – sounds like] or surplus labourers that moved around around started attacking certain farms in the neighbouring area as a means to sustain their livelihoods as a collective – that’s the first important thing to understand. They also were involved in robberies of mine workers and mining personnel who were travelling, especially miners who were travelling between home at that time for the festive season or whenever they need to be at home, and also mining officials. So the whole folklore was tied up of these gangs. They called themselves Umkhosi Wezintaba. In the late 1800s under the leadership of a chap called Jan Note, Mzuzephi Mathebula who later becomes known as Nongoloza. This man led and his philosophy was that you don’t go work for the colonialists, we will survive on our own and this is the way we survive. So it came from a politicisation of certain class issues – and so that’s the first thing that we need to understand. So their philosophy of [roof and plunder – sounds like] in the 28s, like the 26s [indistinct], your mind, it’s a philosophy that comes, it’s rooted in those particular issues. They also saw themselves as hitting against the laws that were oppressing them in that time. That’s hence today it is no coincidence that you hear 28s being referred to as [bed slams – sounds like], it comes from the root in that philosophy.

However, because they were essentially in the then Transvaal and Natal environment, in the Anglo-Boer war period, a lot of them were also bounded into the concentration camps. That made them form an identity around the prison. And then the shifted their name from Umkhosi Wezintaba to People of the Stone, which is now People [indistinct], the prison notion. They were put in Cinderella Prison and all these type of prisons up there in Barberton. So then they adopted that particular type of identity in prison as they were encamped and put in and those things. After the Boer war, after the English concentration camps they were just let out again and the same type of phenomena then emerged. But what was distinct after the war, exploiting the vulnerability of the security lax confusion, a lot of their robberies from robbing people on their way back and officials outside, they started targeting the mining compounds and hitting safes – so in other words the mines became the enemy in a very structured and targeted way.

And as a result of attacks on the mines, the coal mines in Newcastle and particularly large band attacks where there was recorded shootouts between mining officials and them and resulting in death both ways – they became a big band – and as a result of that the then Transvaal commissioner of police issued a statement, wrote to the Cape colonial authorities and said we must clamp down on that. And that is when a new period shifted. So between the period after the war, we’re talking about 1899-1900s now well into 1930 period there’s a declaration then from the Cape and the Transvaal that we must incarcerate all of them. By then they had infiltrated the mining compound; they had been quite deep into this. And a lot of them were sent to Cinderella Prison, to Point Road Prison in Durban. That’s significant because in prison folklore they talk about the Point. When they talk about the Point they talk about this and the significance of this period in history when they were in the Point Road Prison. They were taken to Barberton, Cinderella Prison up there. These prisons don’t exist anymore so you have to think about the [indistinct] of the time, hard-labour type of prison.

It is in those prisons that they then formed the identities of 28, 27, 26 – so they transformed into those names. People 26 who would specialise in smuggling, ensuring that there is a constant supply of goods, whatever luxuries to the big cats; 28s who would see that there is order and laws and also had a practice of izinkotshane which is the maintaining of wives and all those kind of things in terms of the code of the Number – they adopted that.

The 27 who were soldiers who were there to defend or whatever tax the system would have on them. The mapuza was the authority, prison officials, police officers, mining bosses, everyone. So that was the way they conceptualised, the way the saw the enemy back that.

The 26s were formed inside Point Road Prison in Durban itself. But what is distinctive about this gang that you should understand, the prison period of this gang in the early 1900s it’s one of non-racial because the philosophy was it didn’t matter where you come from culturally, under the Number you are something, you are reborn. You are reborn. There is only one thing that matters are the Number because it’s an all-encompassing philosophy. So that is how it grew. But they then felt up north when Scotland Yard at that time handled policing in South Africa: when it started seeing strategically that Mzuzephi Mathebula, Nongoloza was already incarcerated the 26s, Kilikijan of the 27 – they were all incarcerated. They started realising that these people are not a spent force and they’re restructuring quite powerfully inside prisons up north; they just made a decree in the colonial government authority to transfer them to the furtherest points of the country and that was the Cape.

A!: So this was [indistinct] resistance to break them -.

JV: Ja, to break them up within the different – to control. So they ended up in Simododium Prison which doesn’t exist anymore, Belleville Prison which doesn’t exist anymore, and Robben Island – all the key figures. Now that’s an important thing to understand. So this is how the Number spreads and that is why it became the force that it did. It wasn’t an ordinary criminal come together, we rob a place; it was actually a philosophy in itself. And when it was transplanted into prison, prison became the mapuzas, it got internalised here. So that it the type of culture that you should understand. Part of that is there was always a conflictual between the 26 and the 28 in the absence of 27 existing – because the 27 is a soldier who deals with the conflict between the two and if the 27 is not there they are bound to clash based purely on different interests. The 28 are about power, the power can only (be) exercised (if) the authority be bolstered by money – ‘n Spyker so hulle sê. The 26s are all about money and smuggling and their power, Kroon, is their life. So if you do not have regulatory presence of the 27 in the middle that mediates between these two, they are powerless. This is what you see outside and what you see in prisons.

A!: And it still maintains its non-racial character.

JV: It still maintains its non-racial character. The only people who weren’t allowed was whites. [Afrikaans van die boere]. But they were allowed post-1994.

A!: As recent as that.

JV: Yes and only as recently as that. And the Jali Commission Enquiry, there’s one particular sketch ] they asked me to translate what this guy (was saying) because I can speak Nyaza of the 28s and Shalanboom of the 26 There was a white major who the 26 gang who came to testify in Sabela, issued a direct threat on live television. At that time you know [Chris Cornele and Gayton McKenzie – sounds like] they were disposing. And those guy’s trial had to be postponed. And nobody could understand what happened in those guys didn’t want to explain. But it was the first sign of him and he had been a major and this is way in the 90s so they incorporated whites back then. So that is one part of it.

But apart from that gangs did not come to the Cape through the Number. But the time in the 1920s and and I suppose 1930 when all the Number people came via prison and there was an infusion with prisoners from here – gangs like the Globe gang in District Six, the Stalags, ’70s – they already existed. But even their history independently and even their history is uniquely tied to rentier capital in District Six. The property owners from Sea Point and all these kinds of places, the huge property owners could not collect rent in District Six, it was one of those zones that everybody had trouble with; similar to Sophiatown, similar to all these kind of other places. So whom they depended on was, and they got robbed if they come and collect rent. And eventually formations such as the Globe and the Staggies, the Globe gang is the Globe gang, emerged as collection agents. They would send people to rob them. You see, you want to [indistinct 48:36] in the Bloomhoof flats and the Globe controls the Bloomer flats. This is the early [1900s – sounds like] and those things. So you have to come in with that. So there was this relationship with rent and capital with that – so you had to go via the gang. So there was a symbiotic relationship between rentier capital in District Six, Woodstock, Salt River, all of those things, and the Globe gang. The Globe gang moved into other areas like if you wanted to open up a shop – whatever you did, gangs [indistinct] or something like that, it’s a kind of subtle, they are the security. But in response to them as I classic to any gangster [indistinct] in the Western Cape, whether it’s Elsies, there’s always a counter that emerges. A younger group – and in response to them gangs like the Stalags, like the first Sexy Boys that we spoke of started emerging among the younger type of generation. So those are totally different formations – but that formation that I’m talking about now, it’s similar to [Elders in later years, the Fazgans and Spounders – sounds like], for example. They’re independent of the emergence of the Number.

But the period of the ’50, it’s a period where you have more incarceration from all these people and then you then have the established interface with the Number. The point here is that the growth of the lumpenproletariat in District Six started out of a symbiotic relationship with rentier capital who owned property in District Six.

A!: Because [indistinct] talks about his youth in District Six of him being used to break up Communist Party [indistinct].

JV: Yes, they served the interests of firstly rentier capital but the Globe, not the others, the Globe was distinct that later he became a political tool to break up values and all those kind of things you’re going to approach these guys; quite the same thing that happened before the elections here with the the [Americans and the Mongrels and those things. They’re very, very much the same thing, so they’ve always been tied to politics; but now if you forget the politics the way the lumpensproletariat emerged in this country was a political process. It’s not not natural, it’s not like Joseph Silver history on London East End in the 1800s before he came to South Africa. It’s a different type of history. Here the coming together was determined by political lines and class lines. So that’s how you come to the two.

But when we’re in the ’70s everything inside is Number oriented. But the distinctive difference now is in the ’70s and the ’60 what was inside was inside and what was outside was outside, it didn’t mix the two. The [gangs of the ’80s with people like Jackie Lonte, Ernie Lastig, Colin Stanfield.

A!: Staggies.

JV: But before Staggie. Another one, Bobby Mongrel. Let’s go to the ’70s, let’s pitch it there – the time when you saw people fighting with pangas and all those kind of things. There are two things about that history of the ’60s and ’70s in terms of how politics influenced gangs that changes. The first thing is before the Group Areas Act when gangs were small, there were not own flats who were members of the Globe or the Sexy Boys; you saw four or five of them standing at the corner and that kind of thing. But what happened with the Group Areas Act, so those structures were at a youth level, maintained some [view – unclear] of cohesion and order. What happened with the breaking up of those communities also affected the gangs. Because now you’re transplanted wherever you are, whether it’s to Mitchells Plain, to Athlone – wherever you’re transplanting it you’re transplant the Number, it was already there you spread it but widely, laterally and you transplant it, gangs such as the Mongrels, that’s the other gang along District Six, the Mongrels came from District Six to Hannover Park[with Bobby. So that’s what you did literally. With the Group Areas Act you’ve just been transplanted; you have them a wider footprint organisationally; that’s the important thing. You also generated a lot more conflict because now opposing gangs came into camp.

A!: [indistinct] District Six and areas -.

JV: Now you had to disrupt it, now they have to contest again. It’s simple, it’s about income, it’s about the flow of money; money is tied to geographical space, to the shops you control, to the people who collection from and to the rentier class who pays you. If you take all of that out and you press people out of District Six to every corner of the Cape, they literally come there with nothing, so the war for control for carving out new space, new turf, new territory, because absolute. But the difference in the latter ’70 with Jackie is in the beginning in I don’t know if you know with the Mandrax trade first – let’s start with the Mandrax trade. In the early like of a Mandrax was something you crush as a tablet and you threw it in your Bols Brandy and then you drink. The differently with guys like Bobby and Colin and those cases, they marketed it into something you can smoke. Now if you want to hit Cape Town, it doesn’t have an injection culture of drug abuse, it has a smoking culture. So anything that you can smoke is going to hit you. So that’s when it started emerging and it was a such a dramatic effect in terms of its scale that it opened up new wars and the Cape Town Scorpions and the BFK started fighting – those bigger gangs. Note, you never had smaller gangs in the ’70s because of the spread; everybody came from one point [indistinct], so you had these massive formations of BFKs in (Mitchells) Plain, BFKs all over the place because they were very central in terms of that. The same with the Scorpions. So with that infrastructure it’s understandable why Mandrax became spread like it did. Similarly with cocaine; initially it was free-based by guys in Sea Point until Jackie, through some Americans that he knew, real Americans not the Cape Town ones, you can make this thing like this and crack it because it could be smoked. So that was the type of thing.

But it is the infrastructure of the gang, its total footprint that enables the rapid spread of it. It is not like people understand the presence of a single drug outlet. Most of the selling is on the street so you need Numbers to sell on all parts of the street. And there’s only one structure that affords you that Numbers – it’s a gang. And worst of all we’ve got chapters all over the place so it spreads instantly throughout in that way. So those are just some of the things.

So your ’70s period is a period of intense conflict – every time a new drug comes onto the market people are fighting for forms of control and all those kind of things. There’s also one distinctive feature about the ’80s. In the early ’80s and the ’70s you went to buy your drugs at a house. So the business was tied to the presence of property, once you technically talk about it that way. So spatial control in terms of key properties that access your consumer is important, it’s presence. So a lot of the fights, the attacks was on the houses that sell and the gang fights, those type of things to prevent customers from coming there because you’re too high-risk. So that was what the wars were about. But that shifted now in the ’90s when we started developing asset forfeiture laws and all those things, it started shifting later, let’s be a much more mobile phenomena and the gang structure was perfect for that because they could put street dealers] so as not to link the property to the actual [indistinct]. So that’s the one thing. I just want you to remember the change -.

A!: Pretty much covert.

JV: Ja, but covert depends on how open your eyes are. And I want to come to that, to the policing part of it. I’m just trying to sketch to you the different part of it. And But literally if I should put it to you this way, because I grew up in Elsies River and I at one stage was also a Sicilian. On a purely materialistic, not materialism in the Marxist sense of it but in the sense of consumerism, if I basically looked in the ’70s who drove the best cars, who wore the best clothes, who had access the best, labelled a gang – so being part of it became part of that particular process. If I needed to protect myself because I’m going to traverse the territory being a Sicilian is better – because nobody touches the Sicilian because we are not like a structured gang, we are school kids from Elswood, Ravensmead, Elsies River High and Lavers – and we are unpredictable, we are not governed by the Numbers and we don’t care who you are, we’ll deal with you. That was the type of context.

So the struggle in the gang world is a constant one between people who’re on set roads, the older chaps with the gang infrastructures and the newer chaps like us who were around like the Sicilians who start engaging people from a protectionist platform, band up against them. But eventually they discovered these guys make money so we’re taking them over, why don’t we take over everything. So it becomes that type of thing. So that is just the general sketch.

But coming to policing, whatever I am telling you now was never policed for two simple reasons. In the colonial period policing served the interests of narrowly protecting capital in the mine, not even petite bourgeoisie was okay – the mines. So a lot of Scotland Yard, a lot of British policy activity was around the mines, like in the then Rhodesia and or Nyasaland – it was about the police was there to protect the mines. As agricultural production became viable for export in the colonies to invest, policing was about protecting that. And if you literally historically mapped the presence of what we would now call police precincts then they are situated in a way to fulfil this much, which explain why prior to 1994 you have low resources in Mitchells Plain and all these kind of places and more resources in Camps Bay. So those are the type of things that you should first think – the geographical distribution of police was determined by the protection of capital.

A!: So there was virtually no investment in normal policing work

JV: No, no investment in detective work, in community policing. Gangs were seen as [grevelike kleurlinge en daardie geodes – sounds like]. It wasn’t tackled as a particular problem. Drugs was not even considered a serious issue back then. If you take Elsies River for example the police station was in Epping. [indistinct] as it was a barrier it was Ruiterwagt and the rest of Elsies River. That’s what it was about. Now the policing of Elsies River was more about Ruiterwagt and to prevent Elsies from coming to affect Ruiterwagt. Spatially that’s the way policing manifested itself in this country. It was more an instrument of social and political control rather than classical policing – and that’s why detectives were understaffed in these areas, that’s why they only had a visible policing capability really and the specialised investigations were kept to investigate what they called ‘white crimes.’

A!: In Hanover Park where I grew up in the ’70s, the cop station was in Landowne

JV: Yes, yes. It was not about the police station being a place that is a bastion of safety for the people around. There was the policeman being a place that is a fort for social control, political control. That is essentially what the feature of it was. And this continued right up until 1994. But I think that’s the important thing: so you’re not dealing, they history of putting -. Let’s take an example, the Hard Livings, it was formed in 1983 as it is now. The Staggie brothers had used gang formations long before that going back to the ’70s; he himself has a record that goes back to 1971.

A!: Diep River.

JV: Not a long record. But the formation of the Hard Livings in the form in which we understand it, it’s a phenomenon of of the ’80s – between the ’80s to around 1994 it grew into the power that it was. The Americans gang was formed in the mid-’80s. The Mongrels, they go even back further, they go back to District Six. None of what what we see here is new. In actual fact their growth unfettered occurred under apartheid. That’s when the careers of gangsters were shaped. So that’s the point I need you to understand: because policing was not focused, it’s only post-1994 when we start having things in the ’96 like the organised crime legislation that starts to look at crime in these areas as an organised phenomenon. Before that the understanding of organised crime was sophisticated mafia notions – which was nonsense. That was real organised crime what was happening there. So there was that type of thing that is important to understand.

In policing strategy in the birth under Fivaz it was all about still continuing the same things and maintaining the same thing. Until we came in in the ’95 period with a very clear agenda and our background, that firstly policing is not about the security of the state, it’s about the security of the people. Now that’s a fundamental mind shift because if you say it’s about the safety and security of the people, it means all our resources and how you put down your organisational footprint and your strategy, your eyes around protecting the people and serving their interests, that becomes the prime [indistinct]. And previously it was the state, so it was about fortifying the state through a means of social and political control, the policing exercise is to prevent the natives from getting restless, to put it like in the way colonial policing happens; the police function was to keep the natives from getting restless. So that was it was literally about.

This approach enforces a different -. And it’s only after Fivaz left that we really came to say, look, the first phase of now, we must ensure that there’s proper resourcing. That is when we stopped the building [indistinct] police, police sourcing certain stations more, built stations in Khayelitsha, expand the policing in Nyanga, built the Elsies River police station – that is all the new stations is the period of that particular type of thinking. The whole shift in resourcing in that direction and by no means are we there yet because we’re still sitting with the structural footprint of where the service is located in relation to an old apartheid model. There’s no way you can say Mitchells Plain police station is central to Mitchells Plain while most of the crime is in Tafelsig. Do you understand what I’m trying to get to? But that is the process we undertook. We are by no means there totally but I think coming back to the gang type of formation – so I already told you all these gangs were there, we inherited them, we found them outside and we found them there. It’s only through like the organised crime legislation and those types of things that we were able to track them. But I want to come to one distinct thing that reflects as different class [and it’s even – unclear] amongst the progressive police force. There is still from a class perspective different ways of policing different classes. This is from a class analysis, to me it’s tantamount to sometimes criminalising the poor. You know John Paton?

A!: yeah

JV: Ja, He describes his model best in a study we’ve done on American schools and the police. As taking that model it’s a type of model that we’ve got into we’re bound to be knocking heads with the metro police here where we’re not going onto schools in Mannenberg. So that is the first problem but that criminalises people. I’m referring to the criminalisation of American working class youth through the way youth at risk are policed at American schools. In Mitchells Plain where I refuse to search schools because what this type of policing does, it categorises people in general and it assumes that in order to get to the specific chap who’s a problem I need to just treat this big collective as the problem. So I go search the school. I go cordon off Mannenberg and search then from one part for drugs and guns. It sounds nice to militarists in policing and to some of the people in Camps Bay who want to know whether the police are doing something – all these very operationalised models of policing.

A!: And I’m sure if you went to the same school as all those kids in Camps Bay you would find tons of drugs too.

JV: I want to mention the classical case. You know the Merryweather case [

A!: Ja, that was actually my school.

JV: At some point they took me out of the gang world because they felt I needed some time in a totally opposite environment. So they put me to Claremont and it nearly killed me because I was bored in the first day. But in any case it [indistinct]. This happened to coincide the first few months when I was here with this Merryweather. And I was looking at the mother who came to collect the guys who’d left the scene, the fight the way it came up from the Cubana across from the garage. And I sat in the police meeting and I told them I have an experience of this, this is no different from what I see on the Cape Flats. And one of the people in meeting took me on and said, what am I talking about. And I said, if this had happened in the Cape Flats you would probably call it gangsterism. And why’s it any different because the boys are from Reddam and Merryweather is from Bishops -. What makes this thing quantitatively different? Secondly, they escaped from the scene with the support of the mother. He tried to attempt to defeat the ends of justice in terms of obstructing police investigations. There is absolutely no difference between that and what kids on the flats do do. But some of my other colleagues say we have a different way of doing it in Claremont. But what I’m trying to tell you, that type of approach is still prevalent in terms of different class distinctions. For example, the practice of there’s a lot of [indistinct] metro police stuff [indistinct] and all those kind of things. You would not do that in Camps Bay. The question is why would you not do it in Camps Bay if you’re not doing it there? What informs your logic of applying a different approach in Mannenberg than you do there? And a lot of these things have to do more with class. It’s the old racial responses, just re-transplanted but now it’s a bit broader to look at class. Now there are a lot of [indistinct] in our environment, there’s those streams. But the thinking with us around people’s concept of people’s policing is broader than just symptomatic policing that I referred to earlier.

A!: You’re saying that is a distinctive way of policing different areas

JV: No, I don’t say it should be. It shouldn’t be. This is what is still -.

A!: No, no, no, I’m saying it’s my observation that producing ops on Friday night with drugging in Long Street to drugging – it’s very different from the way they’ll do it in Manenberg or Hanover Park

JV: Exactly, exactly.

A!: My own experiences in growing up here, there are as many drugs on my side.

JV: Yes, that’s what it is. So that was the thing when I came to Claremont, I couldn’t understand it. I eventually told them take me out of this place.

A!: If I was arrested for drugs I know I’m going to rehab, I’m not going to jail.

JV: Ja. But coming to the Cape Flats example, what some of us said that if you don’t understand that the behaviour we’re seeing in front, even the existence of the gangs on the Cape Flats – you know, one must look at the material conditions that frames the circumstances in which these things happen. It’s useless trying to get moralistic about why are these kids admiring the guy, Rashied Staggie throws money out that. In a society that places a premium on the type of commodification that comes with bringing security. And that just comes back in a perverted form, in the form of Rashied Staggie and the rest

JV: Where did we stop by trying to explain the footprint of policing here and the different approaches. But like I said, part of people’s policing, the notion of it, is if you understand the material conditions that you face – that is the level that any crime prevention strategy must first penetrate – and that is not the police’s job. Take a simple crime, domestic violence form of violent crime, in all the gang areas too, even higher than gang violence, if I should put it to you. But if you look at the circumstances under which that happens, you have three generations of family within the same flat, same maisonette or some flat in Hanover Park or in Mannenberg, together with backyardarders. The propensity of tension constantly jostling in the environment is highly strong, is very, very strong. The risk of sexual abuse sometimes is highly strong. It’s highly probable in that particular environment, we have much more of those congestions; therefore for us it’s not surprising that our high rate of sexual offences come from precisely those circumstances. I’m not saying it’s different here but I want to highlight the point how domestic violence -. You go and you speak to people: ‘Why are you fighting here?’ And people start talking like that. Then you start realising how much a simple thing like housing in the long-term contributes to some of these things, to socialising, to a culture of socialisation into violence.

Let’s say a robber, a robber is an opportunist, so wherever the environment feeds perfect conditions for concealment if he does his job or where you are more vulnerable, they will take that particular opportunity to do that. So there’s no lights in a place; it’s heaven. They’ve got the natural cover of a constant environment that conceals me. So a simple material circumstance like that does it. If there are no roads in this place there are no controlled areas where police can patrol, where you can move safely with a cover that police are patrolling.

Now I want to come to that particular point in terms of the class issue. Let’s take a practical example, the Khayelitsha Makhaza issue in terms of the Social Justice Coalition takes up. One of the critiques I have [knowing comrades – unclear] [indistinct]. One of the critiques I have of the approaches is that there are circumstances that make it impossible for vans to drive in [indistinct] to do normal patrolling. Even if you go do [foot – unclear] patrolling and you fit in a particular area you’ll disappear instantly and your visibility is not really functioning. So the question is: what would create effective conditions for policing first? It’s improving the infrastructure in those areas. You cannot tell me, like I always tell somebody about Freedom Park [indistinct], you know what the people in Freedom Park have to do report something to the police? There’s no numbers on their houses, so they can’t call 10111.

A!: In Delft?

JV: In Freedom Park in Mitchells Plain, and also think about not only Freedom Park, the whole of certain parts of Makhaza, Enkanini and those areas of Khayelitsha. You can’t call and tell 10111 I live at number this – because there’s no infrastructure, there’s no recognition of your informal housing that comes on our system; the municipal recognition of property owners comes with the ownership of the property or the renting of the property from the state. They don’t accommodate for these environments out there. We were trying to tell the Social Justice Coalition, go and look at those things. Go look at the fact that there’s no lighting, you want to talk about high risk of rape. Go look at the fact that you have communal toilets that people have to go, women have to go to in the middle of the night – and that’s the infrastructure you put down. You’re bound to create this; your material conditions are producing the risk that leads to the crime. So that’s a practical example, and if you take this model there or you take wherever, it’s the same to the rural areas, it’s the same type of environment: the material conditions determine the effectiveness or the efficiency of policing – because we don’t ride horses anymore. And people must be able to communicate with us in order to get us there in an emergency and you can’t do that in the middle of Enkanini and tell us where you live. So that’s the sense in which we understand people’s policing, so that’s the one dimension of the argument that we have.

The second part of it: most of the crimes that produce, organised crime is a very gang-related small minute component of criminal activity in this country. It’s only because we see massive shootouts and gang leaders who are glamorised that we probably think this is the prevalence of the footprint of crime. The bulk of crime relates to social fabric issues; the domestic violence’s, the social-heated violence between people, the robbery. And we’re not talking about the robbery to sell, not this romantic notion of robbery to sell. The highest statistic in Mitchells Plain of crime besides domestic violence is shoplifting. The people who are doing shoplifting are not youngsters. The stuff that they are taking from Woolworths and Pick n Pay in the Promenade is food. So the criminality that I am talking about in the working class areas are not driven by the type of entrepreneurial type of drug dealing and organised criminal activity. So the policing of that crime requires people’s involvement from two perspectives. Let’s take firstly the poor material conditions in Freedom Park and that type of thing.

JV: …The second part of it: most of the crimes that produce, organised crime is a very gang-related small minute component of criminal activity in this country. It’s only because we see massive shootouts and gang leaders who are glamorised that we probably think this is the prevalence of the footprint of crime. The bulk of crime relates to social fabric issues; the domestic violence’s, the social-heated violence between people, the robbery. And we’re not talking about the robbery to sell, not this romantic notion of robbery to sell. The highest statistic in Mitchells Plain of crime besides domestic violence is shoplifting. The people who are doing shoplifting are not youngsters. The stuff that they are taking from Woolworths and Pick n Pay in the Promenade is food. So the criminality that I am talking about in the working class areas are not driven by the type of entrepreneurial type of drug dealing and organised criminal activity. So the policing of that crime requires people’s involvement from two perspectives. Let’s take firstly the poor material conditions in Freedom Park and that type of thing. We would see, I would see it as important for community structures to exist, to agitate for those conditions to appear, as part of normal policing. So if I have a street committee, or a flat committee, or a shack committee, or whatever you call it in that structure at grassroots level, before they start talking about other issues one of the fundamental parts of the job would be to agitate towards improving the environment to support effective policing in these areas]. The civil struggles around normal basic service delivery is important for policing, okay. Putting down, for example, adequate water supply infrastructure in an informal settlement is fundamental to policing. I always tell people the story of Jeffrey Nongwe [sp?] at Crossroads and that. That period, a lot of the manipulation that the then military intelligence did was to, if they’re working with you as a warlord, they’d place all the resources, like a tap, a simple thing like a tap, close to you, so you draw all the people to the tap and that becomes a form of political control. So, simple things like that can generate… in this case it wasn’t the case, but CAN generate tension between people. Because why is it with Nongwe? Why are all the facilities close to the hostels and not amongst us? So those things generate conflict. In a gang environment it’s even worse. Because the gangs position their control around areas where these key resources, where they are scarce, might be located. So that you know you come through them to access them. So those are the problems that this type of thing… so with our model organising and mobilising people at the most basic level, I’m not talking about advocacy groups here, we have a problem with people speaking on behalf of other people and taking collective militancy and channelling it into court cases, you’re destroying it, you demobilise people, dis-empower people. So that is the way we for example, Mitchell’s Plain, organises street committees, why it’s a normal part of our language. It’s contrary to the city model of course and those kind of things. So, we empower people to deal with the social issues to fight crime and also the material issues which generate the risk of it.

Amandla: How would you, on this point, how would you respond to activists, in the area like Mannenberg, saying that the city actually doesn’t want strong community organisations.

JV: We live in a neo-liberal world you know. Nobody wants strong civil… If they can have advocacy groups that channel militancy, de-collectivise it and put it into court cases, then that they can fight on their terms. They can’t fight organised mobilisation. Understand their default position is this securocraticone. Hence the language you get from the city: why are you not arresting them out on the highway, why are you not doing that, you know the classic response, why are you not bringing the army? I mean to deal with what? To do what? That is the type of thing, so I agree, but that is part of a broader type of liberalist politics that wants to deal with the poor as a non-mobilised force.

Amandla: They actually feel quite threatened by….

JV: Yeah, by the mobilisation that you have there…

Amandla: I just want to change… we can link this but, we’ve seen the militarisation of the police over the last few years, we’ve seen the consequences, but without going directly into that question which we’ll deal with later I’m sure, is to a degree the militarisation of the police in your view also not necessarily a militarisation against crime but a militarisation about controlling space and preventing these sort of things that threaten the social fabric control.

JV: Firstly let me just demythologise for you. The police never demilitarised and remilitarised through the sloganeering of someone. Never. Never. The structure in terms of the military tradition of instruction was always there. A militaristic way of doing tactical planning, was always there. Do you understand the military way of planning? You firstly see those on the other side as an adversary. That’s the first point. If I’m planning an operation in Mannenberg then I’m dealing with an adversary. If I have an adversary they better be clearly identified. Because otherwise I’m going to be blanketly searching everybody [unclear]. Okay, so firstly the notion of policing standing in adversarial relation, in an adversarial relationship that informs planning is the first part of the problem. And that notion comes from apartheid like the fortification notion. So that’s the firs thing. We are dealing with our sons and daughters and uncles and other, whether they call themselves 26, Nongoloza, Nongidelas [?]and whatever. So, that’s the first thing, the adversarial kind of position in relation to the public, it’s always been like that. People like us, and some of us slowly, shifted within the community mode of mobilising notion. But the dominant police officer there are people who are not TRT (tactical response teams) that you saw at Marikana or [task force?], that type of thing. The dominant type of policing is a totally different type of thing that’s what I want to get to you. But the militarisation, the ranks, whether you change the name to a senior super-intendant or a [colonel in the eyes of the constable they still see a colonel. You can tell somebody today, tomorrow that I will be a commissioner, they will still tell you that he’s a major general and that’s all. So it doesn’t matter, you know, what labels you put to what. If you want to change from a military culture, paramilitary culture, it’s going to take something much more fundamental than changing name designations or ranks. That’s what I want you to understand. Even during the time where there were senior super-intendants and all, did you see any difference? Did you see any difference? So I don’t know how people are juxtaposing the one period with the other period. It’s always been like that. What I however agree should change is, there are levels in policing, this is the important thing, that might require a very militaristic posture, but that is only in response to the threat you face. If I’m dealing with cash in transit guys I’m not going to send the van. If I’m dealing with a hostage situation or, although I don’t like to use the word, a ‘terror’ threat, I’m not going to send the local police. But what I am talking to you about here, to come back to it, is very much less than one 1 percent of crime in this country. The majority of the type of crime in this country doesn’t require that response. So the shape and structure and philosophy of policing, although it takes into account this, should primarily take the shape of what is required to police normal crime in the part of the social fabric of the society. That’s the one thing that I need to explain. Domestic violence is the highest crime, the highest form of violence in Mitchell’s Plain, and I don’t need the TRT to police that. In actual fact I don’t even sometimes need a van to police it. It’s a different process of engagement, it doesn’t only require me, it requires certain community organisations that specialise in those kinds of things. It requires us all together, so it doesn’t require my posturing only. So those are the type of things that I think you need to understand. Because the thing is, criminals militarise in response to you. The Nongoloza banding together as an army, taking the form of the response to the army during the boer war that was there, that was what they knew. So, you take the shape of what you face. The apartheid-era growth of the number gangs, the big gangs in the 70s, starting to arms themselves, it’s a response to the type of policing that they faced. Although they were not really focused on… except for breaking up gang fights here or there, but that is the type of thing we need to understand.

Amandle: To go back to the original threat that we started the whole thing with…

JV: Mannenburg?

Amandla: Well, sort of the history of gangs. What has been happening to gangs after apartheid?

JV: Basically the one consensual feature is they’re non-racial…

Amandla: Oh really?

JV: Yes, yes now it is not the oppression and those things, it is now the economic plight of the people

Amandla: It’s perceived as a coloured township…

JV: No, no you’re totally wrong here. Listen, let me just explain something here, okay. Let’s look at similar… you had gangs that were small during the time you had District 6, very contained environment [unclear]. It then got a major [transformation with restoring the social cohesion that might have controlled its rapid growth there, with it going out. Now you have the same thing with the emergence of the big townships, you have, going back to the 60s, the rural supply of labour, the flow through here, but without the social cohesion that came with the structures while you were in the peasantry, without that. You don’t have that anymore. You don’t have the same family relations and structures of order that you had there, with the additional advantage of chieftains and those things too, in the absence of men who go to work on the mines, to maintain some form of parental order in that social world. You don’t have that now with Khayalitsha and Nyanga and all of these things. But, what you do have is a big interface with the numbers because everybody who was inside you either changed and always in the 70s and the 60s between coloured gnangs and even the gangs were in [unclear]… its just post-1994 when whites became members]. It’s always been that way. Okay so that influenced… I can take you to Bakwene [?] I can take you to places where there are big numbers of old men… what you didn’t have there, what came as a later development was the street gangs, like the [unclear] gang. But you must understand it in relation to the material conditions. You see the [?] gang develops out of an opportunistic relationship with rentier capital. For rentier capital to be there must be infrastructure, if they want to protect shops there must be shops. There were no shops with [unclear]. There were no extra sources of income that would make a normal gang thrive. It is now that they’re beginning to thrive. It is now when you go to the Vatos and the Mavuras in Khayalitsha and you see a statue of Harlow and his gang [?]. So the organised formation of street gangs now serves as the development in the area, it’s reaching that particular level. And as trade-off happen once again, between local petit bourgeois capital – you want to run your business, you want to run your shebeen, you want to run your whatever, you want to protect your taxis on the rank, you make a deal with the lighties from the vATOS or the Mavuras and then you can get involved in all the territory. Do not see it, that is the mistake people make, as a foreign injection from elswhere, and the culture of Zulus. The class, the material conditions that produced the Mongrels, that produced HLs now exist in that area. The petty bourgeoisie has grown there. There’s now another resource base on which to run protection rackets on, that’s vulnerable, that’s where it happens. So those are types of things. It is not drugs, that’s the other myth, that define the growth of gangs. Gangs existed long before tik, long before mandrax, long before even dagga. In actual fact the first activities with gangs were robbery and extortion, it had nothing to do with drugs. Globe gang had nothing to do with drugs, [Sta…?] neither. You understand what I’m trying to do. Don’t look at the commodity as defining the nature of the problem, because otherwise you lose sight of the material conditions that shapes it.

Amandla: So, you were saying gangs are non-racial

JV: Okay, now like I said, it’s not the Boere and the whites anymore, it’s ‘us’, it’s open. But one of the things about the first gangs outside who jumped into the non-racial route, and that is probably because of the way they think, were the 26s who became essentially involved with the Americans. They, as drug sales opened up potential and they moved into Sea Point [], they needed a different profile to sell. And that profile is white. So later you had Americans gang members and 28 gang members from Greenpoint who were white, it was normal. You also had inside prison in the late 90s as it now changed in terms of mixing prison populations, you now had everybody becoming part of the numbers. So that non-racialisation created a better franchise. And some of the older guys they were killed here independently. I remember the first chap, Pieter… Pieterse… [he was the first South African to come to this country going on a trip to Brazil, who came up with cocaine. He did it three times and then Jacky [?] found out. They kidnapped him, they dealt with him, they didn’t kill him. And he ended up later compromised [compromising?] and went to prison. And that’s how they moved into Sea Point and the Freebase Circuit and Hatfield and all those areas. But they needed a different profile, do you understand what I’m trying to get at?

Amandla: For sure, and I mean a lot of people talk about the globalisation of international crime, and I mean you alluded to it as not so much globalisation as the stuff that’s here already, but I mean what are the effects of the ending of apartheid era tariffs and the opening up of the country to foreign capital. Has that really affected gangs here or has that just been exaggerated?

JV: That’s a bit exaggerated. In actual fact, let’s go through it one by one. There are two major Chinese Traid groups in this country, the [Mo Shin Mo??] and the [??] they’re both Hong Kong-based. They destroyed, there was a time when they were shootings in Rondebosch and all these things, they destroyed the Taiwanese Table Mountain Gang. They demolished them, so that’s the one part of it. They’ve always been scared of Cape Gangs. Because you see some of these older gangs like the Triad are used to set traditional ways of doing things. Some of what scares them about Cape gangs is their unpredictability. And they live according to a philosophy – I don’t know who of you understand the Numbers, you don’t even know when the people are deciding to kill you right when you’re sitting here and speaking normally. They have this mystique, you know, you cannot tie them down. So they started with the shark fin industry, and they started shifting into abalone, and they had to touch base with the 28s and all of these 26s who were controlling some of the trade. And what happened to them in the beginning is they got robbed. You know, because they come to make a deal and they come there with their 500 grand and you know how it works… the guys rob you. Simple as that. That’s what happened so sometimes they needed a [?] then they both get robbed and it was a big mess. Until the Triads, later the [Suni Yong…?] also moved in, they started saying no, we’re not going to pay you with money any more. Me have access to Methaqualone, which gets produced in China, mainland China, as the chemical, not the tablet, the chemical, in quite large quantities, it’s not illegal. It goes through China, in India it gets tabletified, which is also not illegal so you can buy it over the counter. So, that’s where the deal’s at: we give you the thing and then we’ll then and we won’t really help you, you’ll learn to make that agent. You know Ephedrine, we can also get those things and much more. So we’re going to pay you in a barter trade system for the abalone, then things went stable. While they were paying the money that was it. Yuri and the Russians here, and Lipthon[?], Mark and these chaps from uptown, Andre Naude and those guys who were going to be big names, they are in an alliance at the moment with the Sexy Boys, [Jerome Booysen] and those guys, and those guys are entirely unpredictable. Yuri at a birthday party swears in a joking way and gets shot after his party. Just after he drives outside of with his daughter. You know it’s a different dilemma. You know they did the same to Cyril Beeker?]. He went to see Jerome after that, he suddenly gets hit. They are business guys, but firstly they have their own code and you are always an outsider when they deal with you. Okay.

Amandla: So that’s one of the whole unpredictable…

JV: Yes completely. You see it’s opportunism. If some new Triad comes up to him tomorrow and says listen I’ll pay you more for the product, he’ll give it. And if you hassle him in the process he’ll deal with you. There’s no exclusivity in monopoly. They don’t operate… only monopolies.

Amandla: And Nigerian/Moroccan syndicates?

JV: Nigerians got killed in Sea Point.

Amandla: I heard about that.

JV: Ja. They have sort of settled themselves into being the suppliers. They will try, they have some trade here and there. But, they are tolerated and they must pay. Okay. But, Cape Flats gangs relate to you from the skill that you provide.

Amandla: And is the [unclear?]

JV: Yes. Let me take an example. Some of the master bond fraud guys, and guys like […Ali?] with the big investment frauds, they ended up being 26s in prison. They were recruited primarily because of their skill because the 26 gang is about making money, but you make it intelligently with cons and those sorts of things. And they were very impressed, to get the thousand rands they must to this. These guys get millions. The 26s must learn this technique. And they learned it through recruiting them. It was not strange to later arrest Mitchell’s Plain as part of this gang that run a credit card scam or run this scam. They learned it from there. The hothouse dagga planting thing wasn’t a thing you found in Mitchell’s Plain and this area. You find it now but where does that skill come from? It comes from recruiting people. They recruit you because they want in the Number that skill.

Amandla: So it’s the of [breeding?] of skilled white-collar criminals in a prison environment.

JV: Yes. A lots of them became 26s. Either 26s or 28s because these guys are walking money. You see to a 26 you are money. Hulle praat, hulle se: ‘ouens, kan jy die geld…[unclear]’. It means that you are the opportunity. You are the money. You are an object. So they look at that and the skill of gaining money is part of their normal laws or their way. They make excellent business. I don’t see any difference between them and the CEO of the company. They don’t need infrastructures.

Amandla: So, are you saying the international link…

JV: It’s not as if… if you’re talking about borders opening you’re talking about greater supply, you’re not talking about control. You’re talking about more supply lines.

Amandla: So the power of Nigerians and Moroccans is overstated?

JV: No, it’s not power. It’s supply. Power is something different in the [gang/game?], because power comes with force and control. No Nigerian can walk into Mannenburg and sell drugs. He’ll die. You don’t see them there. Sometimes even if you see them here trying something out here, they’re quiet, they have much more covert networks not only because they don’t want to be seen by us but because they don’t want to be seen by gangs, because they’ll get killed. That’s how it works.

Amandla: Very interesting. And I mean the other question I wanted to ask is: you’ve explained it very well but when a new drug comes into the market it has effects, I mean what sort of effects has tik had on the structure of gangs or has it not really had effects on the structure in terms of distribution…

JV: Look the structures grow independent of the drug. With the immediate shift in the 70s to mandrax… can I just put it this way: the gangs grew through spatial relocation that came as the first part, that’s how the footprint spread. Whether it’s inside prisons Numbers coming out and spreading to all other prisons because of a strategy to break them up up there, or whether it’s through the Group Areas breaking up certain areas and spreading. That is how it grows. It grows independent of the drug’s presence. It’s a means of organised survival in a perverse way.

Amandla: Tell me this thing of coloured identity amongst young people and their attraction to…

JV: To that? Well all I can tell you is that: firstly, starting with the Number, if you understand the language it redefines everything human. You speak a new language. You have new symbols through which you look at reality. You have a new… there’s nothing that gives you that sense of identity in Hanover Park. You do not walk around fearfully anymore being preyed on by other gangs because you are a gangster]. The stronger your gang is. If you are an HL people think twice before dealing with you, unless it’s an American from [the other side, where you are killed automatically. But, wherever, it is the brand. It is the power that comes with that myth of what he represents. You know, if I approach you for something and ask you for money like a 26 would – ‘can you please give me some money’. You don’t know the guy from a bar of soap. That is a nice shirt you have. You don’t know the guy, but you know that he’s a 26, that he comes with that. You give your scarf and you give your shirt and money. You understand what I’m trying to say. It’s the type of power that comes with being a gang member. The power of shooting somebody and being a hit-man and knowing somebody else is going to take the fall. Where do you get that feeling. So that is what I’m trying to say. The number makes a philosophy out of it, makes a belief system out of it. You get told all these myths about the great fight between the gangs and the eight stars falling form the sky and the seven start falling into the green grass…

Amandla: It sounds religious.

JV: Ja, it really is. It’s so encapturing that it’s easy to become part of it. And with the whole secrecy of prison, you won’t know the whole number, the whole story you can only know once you are Makwezi[?] in the 26s, which is above the rank of a fighting general. We will give you a little bit which is particular to your number, the compartmentalisation. And for those who are young it’s exciting [whispers] I want to be up there, I want to be a [?] I want to be a captain. These things come at a price.

Amandla: Tell me, the Pagad vigilante phenomenon of the late ’90s right. Now they took out quite a few people…

JV: Maybe some of them were drug dealers themselves…

Amandla: How significant was it in disrupting the leadership and creating a vacuum…

JV: It didn’t. You see the popular myth is one thing. The reality we know on the ground is something different. Let me take an example. You know what the HLs did in response to Rashaad Staggie. Firstly, they kidnapped a driver. They wanted his father because his father was in the video, they studied the video. They gave an instruction: every single one on that video must be killed with the exception of the [ournalist. So what they did is they made list because we went the guy who did that, one of the HL guys. And then his father didn’t [bribe?] so they decided to kill him. Another old man whose family was from Portland but he lived behind Wembley. He was kidnapped and tortured by the HLs and the Americans. They banded together. Together with [unclear] and those guys from Kensington. They decided to eliminate everyone. They kidnapped him, they killed him. There was delivery chap also. They had the memorial… not a memorial, the usual thing at the house, they went in and killed four of them, four of the people there including his daughter and his son and other family members. This is what I’m trying to tell you: there’s a time at which Pagad realised this comes at costs. And you must understand the dominant leadership of Pagad were middle class kids. Maybe smoked mandrax and some of them…

Amandla: so Pagad was a middle class and couldn’t take this?

JV: Ja, they were middle class kids, with the exception of a chap like Ebrahim Jennike [sp?] who was a working class boy from Mannenburg. He had the guts to walk up to you and shoot you straight in your head and those kinds of things. He had that. None of these Adbusalaam Ebrahims [sp] – fine they had the theory – but they didn’t have enough commitment to put guts to the theories. The working class boys from these areas had the guts to do the jobs. Here and there [.. but the moment some of them tasted prison then everything collapsed, all that theory. But the chaps with the guts…

Amanddla: So you mean taking out the core and that disrupted nothing.

JV: No, it doesn’t matter. The structure is an organism that reproduces itself, okay. It doesn’t matter who it is. It even takes out its own leaders if those leaders don’t support the functioning of the structure. Rashid Staggie and his brother were at the start of the Hard Livings. The Hard Livings now is an organism way beyond what it was when we sent him to prison 10-11 years ago.

Amandla: How?

JV: For example, when he was in one of the unique things he had, because his brother was a 28 general and he was a 26 general, that’s what made that gang so unique – it was the only gang that combined both 26s and 28s in one fold under a different identity. You do not get that in other places. It’s either 28 or 26, your Fancy Boy and you 28 or your American and your 26 in some other cases. That was unique. And that, Rashaad Staggie died, then the first group started going [unclear], those 28s that were part of it started having issues with Rashid’s 26 leadership. But the other thing about Rashid, because he’s a fighting general in the 26s, at his level he makes decisions in a highly centrist way. And a fighting general in the prison system controls what you call [Zomkhozi], all the wealth of the gang, determines the distribution. He applied that to his own gang. So he had a very centralist way of controlling. When he went to prison, as happens with all of these things, all of those things collapsed. And for a while when the Staggies’ were gone it disappeared as a feature. They broke up into separate chapters – Watson stayed in Mannenburg, Donovan went to Ocean View, the other guy Gareth went to Mitchell’s Plain, other guys went to Delft So they took a piece of the wealth with them, transplanted the franchise to those areas, but it wasn’t really what it was when it was when it was district 6 thing. They spread that.

Amandla: Was it [appointment?]

JV: No, simply because there was a vacuum. Staggie never developed second layer leadership. [unclear]. He’s a Number man.

Amandla: So there’s a hierarchy.

JV: The number follows a strict type of progression with certain acts that must be fulfilled at certain times in your history to achieve a certain thing. Staggie didn’t empower his people. Watson and them were [just gun men… They never really gave these people something. When he went in, people came together and said okay, I’m going my way and that’s how they did it. He will not be able to, if he comes out, like he is now and he wants to take control of that, they will kill him. If he comes there again with his fighting general number. Do you know how it works? If you’re an officer in the Numbers, 28s, if I walk around outside and say who’s that there, oh he’s 26. I say hoe gaan dit and the guy must recognise me. If he doesn’t recognise me it’s a problem. And part of that recognition involves recognising that because I’m the senior year, your camp is part of my camp, and because your camp is part of mine your assets are part of my assets, so if need money to survive you will give it to me. So those are the kind of things that come with that.

Amandla: So if ever…

JV: If ever, they will kill him. I’m telling you they’ll kill him. And he doesn’t have that fear amongst the soldiers. You see, the base level of the HLs now are younger guys who would never in his time been HLs. Staggie and Rashaad had this thing where you can be lighty here and once you get older and show your guts and you become a Hard Livings gang member. But then you must be [unclear]. Do you understand? You can see the photos, the people around Staggie earlier, you can see its older guys, late 20s and that, not 15/16 year olds. A lot of them now… while he was in prison the HLs who were outside needed to defend their ranks against the Americans [unclear]. They recruited all these younger guys into their fold. That’s why that boy was shot at [?], he was an HL. He came from the Stuper[?] Gang that was incorporated into the HLs. You understand. That’s part of that particular process. But those laaities are unpredictable. I mean what does fighting general mean to them

Amandla: So he’s a man of yesterday?

JV: He’s a man of yesterday. The best thing for him to do is for him to sort of… I was the one opposing his [paroke

[inaudible]

JV: You know, I tried everything with this thing. I was saying firstly, okay fine, correctional services is saying in terms of internally your record is clean and you’re rehabilitated. But I’m not here to measure you in terms of what correctional services says, you might have been an angel inside. I’m talking about what you are outside. You are a fighting general in the 26s. By the way you are the most senior person in prison at this moment in the 26s gang in this country. Secondly, you are still regarded as the leader of the Hard Livings[?] gang, one of the most powerful gangs in Mannenburg. What are you going to do with that to do something constructive outside? Then he shocked me entirely; he said no he’s going to denounce the number. I said do you know what that means, and he said ja no he’s prepared to take… and he went on and said that God told him to do it. The second thing is that I said but the HLs, that’s another matter entirely. He said no then he’ll denounce the HLs too. And on that ticket he convinced the other people on the parole board. The parole board are civilians, ne. We just come, correctional services come and say we did this [unclear] with the guy and say this is the problem. So he convinced them. But he can’t go back. If he goes back he’s going to die. Now I’m not convinced that, you know… Rashid is also a certified sacrifice. Certified.

JV: Not allegedly, certified, that medical thing, because he was treated. No I’m not sure whether you know… that is a different type of mindset. A person who is used to the type of power that man has. I really don’t know.

Amandla: It doesn’t relinquish that easy hey?

JV: It’s not easy. I mean, in the Numbers, I’m telling you another 26 lighty comes up and tells him fuck you, who are you? He’s going to react from another instinct.

Amandla: Tell me we’ve…

JV: What I want you to understand is the class dimension, the material dimension of all the things. When we talk about gangs and response, we’re talking about the development of policing.

Amandla: This is fascinating stuff.

JV: Policing. Colonial policing was about protecting class interests.

Amandla: If you could just suggest any readings or any sort of things to investigate we’d really appreciate that.

JV: Okay, if you really want to.

Amandla: I really want to

JV: One of the most brilliant writers on the early history is Charles van Onselen

Amandla: Yeah I’ve read his…

JV: Get a paper of his titled ‘Regiment of the Hills’

Amandla: I think I’ve got it.

JV: Read that. He writes a small book, I think ‘A Matter of a Small Horse’ but that’s one thing. If you want to understand the environment he’s by far the authority on the earlier period.

Amandla: That New Babylon book I’ve gotten. I haven’t read it but I’ve got it.

JV: [inaudible] is it out already?

Amandla: It’s been out for a while. I’ve got an old edition from like 20 years ago.

JV: Okay, I wrote something as a manual to instruct people on the Number and the language and all those things. Read Steinberg’s[?] stuff because he consulted with me.

Amandla: Yeah, the Number?

JV: The Number. But if you understand the story of that general he’s telling you’ll understand what he’s going to face on the outside. That is to see what such a person has to go through. What else is there?… But coming back to the… [inaudible – something about Steinberg’s book The Number] That is the one he consulted with me on. I’ll tell you how The Number came about. I know Jonny quite well because he did some work in Pollsmoor and he wrote a small track. And then he was referred to me in terms of the Number from guys in prison, because they told him he’s a cop who knows the language and can speak the thing. So he ended up speaking to me and I ended up giving him those things I wrote. But, one thing, what happened there is the actual chap he interviews I got from prison to speak to him. Okay so what I did is: I told him, you record that chap to tell you exactly as he says.

Amandla: Are you talking about…

JV: Yeah So I said then you bring it to me and I’ll interpret what he says, and I’ll tell you he’s bullshitting you here and those kind of things. So that is how the relationship has been. So that’s an important book but from the personal type of dimension. But when you look at the early history that will be that. What else… You see most of these 80s, 90s period you won’t get stuff. [Don Pinnock sp?] wrote but he mostly focused on the youth phenomena. Some of his understandings about the number were faulty. Because he didn’t understand the language you see. The symbols, the slight shift in a tattoo between, you know those pillars that they have opened and close, between where the sun is positioned. Those types of dynamics you need to understand in order to do that. But, coming back to the peoples’ policing notion, you’ll probably pick up in the media that the people, the city has quite an issue with me because of my criticism of programs like Ceasefire and those kind of things. Part of the reason is: the issue is that there are people who if you organise them correctly can deal with these problems at grassroots level. You know you just need to tap into it. You don’t need easy recipes from other countries to deal with it. But the most important thing is: I want you to look at, there’s a model that I’ve been arguing some of the street committees in Mitchell’s Plain should start looking at.] Okay let me explain. In Latin America in San Salvador, after the conflict there emerged a lot of youth gangs.

Amandla: Yeah like MS13 [sp?]

JV: Ja, Mara [sp?], they called them collectively the Mara across that whole belt from Mexico. [tries to remember a name]

Amandla: The one based in LA?

JV: It started in San Salvador

Amandla: Yeah so we’re talking about MS13.

JV: I’m talking about the original group

Amandla: Yeah.

JV: Go look at their approach. Their approach says that in areas where the state materially has been unable to deliver, and in San Salvador parts where policing also does not deliver, the only approach to the problem involves transforming those very structures. That’s the first premise. If the gangs are the cause of the conflict, try and transform them into something else. It has a philosophy, a four prong strategy: the first part involves reconnecting the gang member to the other organised structures of his normal life, the family. So they have a big particular program dealing with, if you were part of that, reconnecting you with the family. So a lot of their social investment foes into that. And they’ve aligned certain progressive organisations to be focussing on funding and activism around building families in the areas where the gangs were strong. Reconnection. It’s a vert concrete level. The other part involves, after you’ve done that or you’ve got them off drugs, getting all the drugs is not a chemicalised process in only that. They now social links. For social links you need community communication. That type of principle. So that have a lot of emphasis on that instead of only emphasis on rehabilitation by taking you away to a place or that kind of thing. They don’t have that kind of notion, they’re primary level is primary level care. The third dimension is after you’ve gone through this process, you’re integrated via the family, your problems are being dealt with, your gang becomes a civic structure.

Amandla: A civic structure?

JV: Yes, let’s continue. Or part of the civic movement that exist. To agitate against the material conditions that produce you. But as part of normal… You’re not doing it as the Mara or that, now you’re doing it as part of this. But we’re taking that principle that you have of cohesion within the gang, and transplanting it and channelling the thing to a different program. So you see you start from the micro [inaudible]. So that is it, but that whole process involves empowering the people and building capacity amongst the people. You know it doesn’t involve foreign funded advocacy.

Amandla: And that’s contrary to the entire myth and plans for development here.

JV: Ja contrary to the Ceasefire thing. You understand this involved empowering people. That is the important difference in the way we look at the thing. That is a good international precedent.

Amandla: If you can send us a link we’ll definitely check it out.

JV: I can.

Amandla: We’ll get your details from you, your email.

JV: Okay but that is a practical example because they work under conditions similar to that, and in studying gangs…

Amandla: Tell me, in Mannenburg the Ceasefire thing is a crazy thing because it all it allows is for the drug thing to go on. It’s a veneer.

JV: No the only reason you can get an agreement between people is on their terms and their framework, not yours. And that’s what we’ve been trying to tell priests and all these idealists who’re trying to do these things.

Amandla: On whose terms?

JV: On the gang terms. Because you go into a meeting and you open up and you chair, it happened to the chap who started the ISS, they went and started chairing the meeting and it was the HLs and the Americans and the Clever Kids from that time in the early 90s. So they went into this meeting and then the guys spoke a whole different language, and then for two hours they couldn’t understand what the hell the people were saying . When they finished people walked out and thanked them for bringing them together for this meeting saying there’s peace now, you can go and make your press announcement. But what literally had happened is the following. Okay. You kill the captain of our side, we won’t kill… you don’t have a captain in your gangs, so three sergeants will be fine, their blood will be fine in equivalent to that. But, we don’t want an incident so you kill your guys yourselves. So we’re equivalent in the levels of blood. It was exchanged. Secondly we fought about this part of Mannenburg. Okay fine, we agree in terms of the street sales. You can put three more guys but with the Clever Kids it was the taxi being taxed as they come into Mannenburg off Duinerfontein Road. You I’ll have a [this area and you’ll. have a that area Because the fight was about, by the time you pay your taxes the taxi will be gone down…

Amandla: So you’ll split you protection racket?

JV: Yes. Say okay fine. The HLs, the Clever Kids that time of the war they were sitting on a gold mine. Because as you come into those flats that was their territory. By the time they tax you you don’t have money to pay further down as you go down. That’s what the war was about. It wasn’t about drugs. The Clever Kids were not even into drugs at that point in time, it’s only much later because of the protection route entry from Duinerfontein road, there wasn’t a Nyanga junction. And it just so happened that these Clever Kids happened to be there and they taxed the taxis as the only source of income. But in this meeting I’m talking about was, okay we’ll share with the HLs, not the noble idealism of the guy who comes from the church.. You sit there and you getguys like this MEC who sits there and gets cut out. Then they tell him afterwards we’ve have a peace deal and he believes all of this. All they needed, because at some stage having this constant war is bad for business because it attracts major policing, so they needed a party to get them together because they would not get together normally. Okay so only this neutral party of a priest or imam can bring them together. But once they’re there they serve no purpose. Their own agreements and their code determines that. You see, so I don’t see anything in the ceasefire. This thing doesn’t take symptomatic solutions. Like that [unclear] program that I’m talking about its long term, it’s transformative, it’s programmatic. You work to change according to a programme. You don’t come with fire brigade type of tactics.

Amandla: But fire brigade tactics are good for election time.

JV: No well that’s why I don’t do it. I don’t believe. It’s a monumentous waste of state resources, like this Mannenburg thing in the schools. Why go to the schools? The threat was never really on the schools, the threat was on the streets neighbouring the schools.

Amandla: Sure. So the strategy of open up rehabs and…

JV: Rehabs are for certain levels of specialised treatment but the moment we follow the neo-liberal model of commodifying treatment for what is a social ill, we create problems. I’m not saying that level of specialisation is not required. It is. But the mainstay of what you do should be preventative work involving the power of the community through the structures of the community. And that is a skill the community have. You must just bring them together and mobilise them in that way. You don’t need foreign funding. You don’t need to inject specialist experts or academics to do that. People know how to do these things. The poor have the most amazing… how do you think they survived under the conditions of Elsie’s River after all these years, generation after generation. There must be some collective capacity to that. If you can take it, organise it, and mobilise it in that particular way minus all the political ballgames that are being played, you have an amazing resource. But I mean you live in a neo-liberal type of environment.

[unclear, interviewer asks about an acronym VPU]

JV: Violence Protection Unit? [Firstly let’s talk about that. That program [?] gentrification, and used Woodstock as an example. It comes from Chicago, the neo-liberal model of policing and development. Where it’s the same type of thinking. Out-upgrade [?] the problem. All you do is dislocate it. So Woodstock used to be a problem so we gentrify Woodstock and the problem can’t afford to stay there any more so they more to TafelsigIf you transplant that to areas in Mannenburg it’s the same principal. What happens is all the same you take this area you build it up primarily business orientated. You ensure it has proper security, try enforce policing to sort of centre itself around it, and you hope the impact of that would further move away… but that doesn’t happen. You improve the material conditions where they are, make it even. It doesn’t start with developing a middle class, that is a myth. There is no middle class to develop homegrown in Khayalitsha. Wherever you build, if you build down the promenade you bring in big capital. It will be the Pick ‘n Pays, the Woolworths, all the big ones. That doesn’t impact on crime. What I can tell you, on the large size of the mall where there used to be low-cost housing they suddenly disappear because you’ve displaced them. So it’s a perverse solution. But my biggest problem is that it focuses on the development only of the petty bourgeoisie and their material needs, which represent a very minute part of that whole infrastructure on Mitchell’s Plain. And once again it forces policing into a protective model of a class enclave inside those areas. One of the biggest complaints I used to get from the City is there’s no vans around the promenade. I’m more concerned with vans and dogs, really, than whether Woolworths gets robbed. Because Woolworths ploughs nothing into it. They are just Woolworths, they are there in the middle of the place. So that’s the first tactic. So if one is talking about violence prevention through intereventions] that is part of a full package of looking at all levels of material deprivation that contributes to the type of criminality. But then you must be doing something for the community then you must actually becreating jobs then we’re talking about footprints, infrastructure like business, all of those things. The whole notion to me, is quite averse to you know, that we need to be worried whether capital is here because if capital is here then everything is going to grow – its bullshit. That type of thinking informs that type of thing. That’s why my ideological position is that but from a policing position it just imposes, that type of philosophy sometimes imposes the frame or model of policing, I should put it that way

Amandla: And what you said earlier, if you actually look at grassroots the poor have tremendous agency.

JV: Of course

Amandla: And would you say that in terms of the developmental state we’ve lost that?

JV: I have a different understanding of the state, I don’t believe in this development state notion.

Amandla: In terms of what is there. Is there any…

JV: The problem with the kind of developmental state model as it is argued here, it rests on the same assumptions as the VPUapproach. Bring capital and develop a middle class and that is the ultimate solution to the problem. I don’t share those sentiments. I’m saying you measure society by the material difference it made to the poorest section of society. That is the yardstick. What difference does it make to the rural poor and the most destitute in our environment, that is the measure, that is the yardstick, not whether we have Woolworths in Mitchell’s Plain or Nyanga. It’s a perverse type of contradiction. I think that’s the sense in which I look at it. Because what does this investment mean? How much local labour that progresses to benefit beyond the casual labour has gone into Pick n pay’s in the promenade? Pick ‘n Pay on the promenade runs with casual labour.

Amandla: It leaves no plumbers behind or architects…

JV: Even the building of that type of thing, they say they advance local, and then you come to it people are doing the job, the skilled artisans are not being utilised in those thing. Because of unnecessarily complicated corporate tender type of things. I’m not saying we must relax it but what I’m trying to say is the whole tender process as it comes with some of these things has to do, in the business part, you need a team of corporate lawyers and massive infrastructure in order to qualify. [unclear]

Amandla: The corporates are basically commercialising simple service delivery.

JV: Commodifying it.

Amandla: Yes, commodifying it.

JV: There are some things that should not be commodified.

Amandla: Yes and what is this call for foreign investment but a call basically to break up unions.

JV: The interesting thing is the conflict within the city around the water meters things. What happened is the street committee infrastructures that we had created led the anti-water meter campaign in Tafelsign. People were saying the police are behind this campaign. And ti was generating… Eventually they wanted us to tackle them. I said no. This system you’re introducing here, you’ve commodified the basic service delivery of water to people in this environment. It is what is causing your council trucks to be stoned. You’re being chased out of a meeting? I’m not going to police that, why must I police that. The factor that generated some problems, and a lot of people have problems with that…

JV: …The second part of it: most of the crimes that produce, organised crime is a very gang-related small minute component of criminal activity in this country. It’s only because we see massive shootouts and gang leaders who are glamorised that we probably think this is the prevalence of the footprint of crime. The bulk of crime relates to social fabric issues; the domestic violence’s, the social-heated violence between people, the robbery. And we’re not talking about the robbery to sell, not this romantic notion of robbery to sell. The highest statistic in Mitchells Plain of crime besides domestic violence is shoplifting. The people who are doing shoplifting are not youngsters. The stuff that they are taking from Woolworths and Pick n Pay in the Promenade is food. So the criminality that I am talking about in the working class areas are not driven by the type of [indistinct] entrepreneurial type of drug dealing and organised criminal activity. So the policing of that crime requires people’s involvement from two perspectives. Let’s take firstly the poor material conditions in Freedom Park and that type of thing. We would see, I would see it as important for community structures to exist, to agitate for those conditions to appear, as part of normal policing. So if I have a street committee, or a flat committee, or a shack committee, or whatever you call it in that structure at grassroots level, before they start talking about other issues one of the fundamental parts of the job would be to agitate towards improving the environment to support effective policing in [inaudible]. The civil struggles around normal basic service delivery is important for policing, okay. Putting down, for example, adequate water supply infrastructure in an informal settlement is fundamental to policing. I always tell people the story of Jeffrey Nongwe [sp?] at Crossroads and that. That period, a lot of the manipulation that the then military intelligence did was to, if they’re working with you as a warlord, they’d place all the resources, like a tap, a simple thing like a tap, close to you, so you draw all the people to the tap and that becomes a form of political control. So, simple things like that can generate… in this case it wasn’t the case, but CAN generate tension between people. Because why is it with Nongwe? Why are all the facilities close to the hostels and not amongst us? So those things generate conflict. In a gang environment it’s even worse. Because the gangs position their control around areas where these key resources, where they are scarce, might be located. So that you know you come through them to access them. So those are the problems that this type of thing… so with our model organising and mobilising people at the most basic level, I’m not talking about advocacy groups here, we have a problem with people speaking on behalf of other people and taking collective militancy and channelling it into court cases, you’re destroying it, you demobilise people, dis-empower people. So that is the way we for example, Mitchell’s Plain, organises street committees, why it’s a normal part of our language. It’s contrary to the city model of course and those kind of things. So, we empower people to deal with the social issues to fight crime and also the material issues which generate the risk of it.

Amandla: How would you, on this point, how would you respond to activists, in the area like Mannenberg, saying that the city actually doesn’t want strong community organisations.

JV: We live in a neo-liberal world you know. Nobody wants strong civil… If they can have advocacy groups that channel militancy, de-collectivise it and put it into court cases, then that they can fight on their terms. They can’t fight organised mobilisation. Understand their default position is this securocratic [?] one. Hence the language you get from the city: why are you not arresting them out on the highway, why are you not doing that, you know the classic response, why are you not bringing the army? I mean to deal with what? To do what? That is the type of thing, so I agree, but that is part of a broader type of liberalist politics that wants to deal with the poor as a non-mobilised force.

Amandla: They actually feel quite threatened by….

JV: Yeah, by the mobilisation that you have there…

Amandla: I just want to change… we can link this but, we’ve seen the militarisation of the police over the last few years, we’ve seen the consequences, but without going directly into that question which we’ll deal with later I’m sure, is to a degree the militarisation of the police in your view also not necessarily a militarisation against crime but a militarisation about controlling space and preventing these sort of things that threaten the social fabric control.

JV: Firstly let me just demythologise for you. The police never demilitarised and remilitarised through the sloganeering of someone. Never. Never. The structure in terms of the military tradition of instruction was always there. A militaristic way of doing tactical planning, was always there. Do you understand the military way of planning? You firstly see those on the other side as an adversary. That’s the first point. If I’m planning an operation in Mannenberg then I’m dealing with an adversary. If I have an adversary they better be clearly identified. Because otherwise I’m going to be blanketly searching everybody [unclear]. Okay, so firstly the notion of policing standing in adversarial relation, in an adversarial relationship that informs planning is the first part of the problem. And that notion comes from apartheid like the fortification notion. So that’s the firs thing. We are dealing with our sons and daughters and uncles and other, whether they call themselves 26, Nongoloza, Nongidelas [?]and whatever. So, that’s the first thing, the adversarial kind of position in relation to the public, it’s always been like that. People like us, and some of us slowly, shifted within the community mode of mobilising notion. But the dominant police officer [unclear] are people who are not TRT (tactical response teams) that you saw at Marikana or [task force?], that type of thing. The dominant type of policing is a totally different type of thin, that’s what I want to get to you. But the militarisation, the ranks, whether you change the name to a senior super-intendant or a [colonel?], in the eyes of the constable they still see a colonel. You can tell somebody today, tomorrow that I will be a commissioner, they will still tell you that he’s a major general and that’s all. So it doesn’t matter, you know, what labels you put to what. If you want to change from a military culture, paramilitary culture, it’s going to take something much more fundamental than changing name designations or ranks. That’s what I want you to understand. Even during the time where there were senior super-intendants and all, did you see any difference? Did you see any difference? So I don’t know how people are juxtaposing the one period with the other period. It’s always been like that. What I however agree should change is, there are levels in policing, this is the important thing, that might require a very militaristic posture, but that is only in response to the threat you face. If I’m dealing with cash in transit guys I’m not going to send the van. If I’m dealing with a hostage situation or, although I don’t like to use the word, a ‘terror’ threat, I’m not going to send the local police. But what I am talking to you about here, to come back to it, is very much less than one 1 percent of crime in this country. The majority of the type of crime in this country doesn’t require that response. So the shape and structure and philosophy of policing, although it takes into account this, should primarily take the shape of what is required to police normal crime in the part of the social fabric of the society. That’s the one thing that I need to explain. Domestic violence is the highest crime, the highest form of violence in Mitchell’s Plain, and I don’t need the TRT to police that. In actual fact I don’t even sometimes need a van to police it. It’s a different process of engagement, it doesn’t only require me, it requires certain community organisations that specialise in those kinds of things. It requires us all together, so it doesn’t require my posturing only. So those are the type of things that I think you need to understand. Because the thing is, criminals militarise in response to you. The Nongoloza banding together as an army, taking the form of the response to the army during the boer war that was there, that was what they knew. So, you take the shape of what you face. The apartheid-era growth of the number gangs, the big gangs in the 70s, starting to arms themselves, it’s a response to the type of policing that they faced. Although they were not really focused on… except for breaking up gang fights here or there, but that is the type of thing we need to understand.

Amandle: To go back to the original threat that we started the whole thing with…

JV: Mannenburg?

Amandla: Well, sort of the history of gangs. What has been happening to gangs after apartheid?

JV: Basically the one consensual feature is they’re non-racial…

Amandla: Oh really?

JV: Yes, yes now [inaudible] is not the oppression and those things, it is now the economic plight of the people

Amandla: It’s perceived as a coloured township…

JV: No, no you’re totally wrong here. Listen, let me just explain something here, okay. Let’s look at similar… you had gangs that were small during the time you had District 6, very contained environment [unclear]. It then got a major [unclear] with restoring the social cohesion that might have controlled its rapid growth there, with it going out. Now you have the same thing with the emergence of the big townships, you have, going back to the 60s, the rural supply of labour, the flow through here, but without the social cohesion that came with the structures while you were in the peasantry, without that. You don’t have that anymore. You don’t have the same family relations and structures of order that you had there, with the additional advantage of chieftains and those things too, in the absence of men who go to work on the mines, to maintain some form of parental order in that social world. You don’t have that now with Khayalitsha and Nyanga and all of these things. But, what you do have is a big interface with the numbers because everybody who was inside you either changed [inaudible]and always in the 70s and the 60s between coloured [unclear]… and even the gangs were in [unclear]… its just post-1994 when whites became [unclear]. It’s always been that way. Okay so that influenced… I can take you to Bakwene [?] I can take you to places where there are big numbers of old men… what you didn’t have there, what came as a later development was the street gangs, like the [unclear] gang. But you must understand it in relation to the material conditions. You see the [?] gang develops out of an opportunistic relationship with rentier capital. For rentier capital to be there must be infrastructure, if they want to protect shops there must be shops. There were no shops with [unclear]. There were no extra sources of income that would make a normal gang thrive. It is now that they’re beginning to thrive. It is now when you go to the [?] and the Mavuras [?] in Khayalitsha and you see a statue of Harlow and his gang [?]. So the organised formation of street gangs now serves as the development in the area, it’s reaching that particular level. And as trade-off happen once again, between local petit bourgeois capital – you want to run your business, you want to run your shebeen, you want to run your whatever, you want to protect your taxis on the rank, you make a deal with the lighties from the [?] or the Mavuras [?] and then you can get involved in all the territory. Do not see it, that is the mistake people make, as a foreign injection from, and [unclear] of Zulus [?]. The class, the material conditions that produced the Mongrels, that produced HLs [?] now exist in that area. The petty bourgeoisie has grown there. There’s now another resource base on which to run protection rackets on, that’s vulnerable, that’s where it happens. So those are types of things. It is not drugs, that’s the other myth, that define the growth of gangs. Gangs existed long before tik, long before mandrax, long before even dagga. In actual fact the first activities with gangs were robbery and extortion, it had nothing to do with drugs. [Gl…?] gang had nothing to do with drugs, [Sta…?] neither. You understand what I’m trying to do. Don’t look at the commodity as defining the nature of the problem, because otherwise you lose sight of the material conditions that shapes it.

Amandla: So, you were saying gangs are non-racial

JV: Okay, now like I said, it’s not the Boere and the [Map…?] anymore, it’s ‘us’, it’s open. But one of the things about the first gangs outside who jumped into the non-racial route, and that is probably because of the way they think, were the 26s who became essentially involved with the Americans. They, as drug sales opened up potential and they moved into Sea Point [unclear], they needed a different profile to sell. And that profile is white. So later you had Americans gang members and 28 gang members from Greenpoint who were white, it was normal. You also had inside prison in the late 90s as it now changed in terms of mixing prison populations, you now had everybody becoming part of the numbers. So that non-racialisation created a better [fr…?]. And some of the older guys they were killed here independently. I remember the first chap, Pieter… Pieterse… [unclear], he was the first South African to come to this country going on a trip to Brazil, who came up with cocaine. He did it three times and then Jacky [?] found out. They kidnapped him, they dealt with him, they didn’t kill him. And he ended up later compromised [compromising?] and went to prison. And that’s how they moved into Sea Point and Freebay Circuit [?] [..field] and all those areas. But they needed a different profile, do you understand what I’m trying to get at?

Amandla: For sure, and I mean a lot of people talk about the globalisation of international crime, and I mean you alluded to it as not so much globalisation as the stuff that’s here already, but I mean what are the effects of the ending of apartheid era tariffs and the opening up of the country to foreign capital. Has that really effected gangs here or has that just been exaggerated?

JV: That’s a bit exaggerated. In actual fact, let’s go through it one by one. There are two major Chinese Traid groups in this country, the [Mo Shin Mo??] and the [??] they’re both Hong Kong-based. They destroyed, there was a time when they were shootings in Rondebosch and all these things, they destroyed the Taiwanese Table Mountain Gang. They demolished them, so that’s the one part of it. They’ve always been scared of Cape Gangs. Because you see some of these older gangs like the Triad are used to set traditional ways of doing things. Some of what scares them about Cape gangs is their unpredictability. And they live according to a philosophy – I don’t know who of you understand the Numbers, you don’t even know when the people are deciding to kill you right when you’re sitting here and speaking normally. They have this mystique, you know, you cannot tie them down. So they started with the shark fin industry, and they started shifting into abalone, and they had to touch base with the 28s and all of these 26s who were controlling some of the trade. And what happened to them in the beginning is they got robbed. You know, because they come to make a deal and they come there with their 500 grand and you know how it works… the guys rob you. Simple as that. That’s what happened so sometimes they needed a [?] then they both get robbed and it was a big mess. Until the Triads, later the [Suni Yong…?] also moved in, they started saying no, we’re not going to pay you with money any more. Me have access to Methaqualone, which gets produced in China, mainland China, as the chemical, not the tablet, the chemical, in quite large quantities, it’s not illegal. It goes through China, in India it gets tabletified, which is also not illegal so you can buy it over the counter. So, that’s where the deal’s at: we give you the thing and then we’ll then and we won’t really help you, you’ll learn to make that agent. You know Ephedrine, we can also get those things and much more. So we’re going to pay you in a barter trade system for the abalone, then things went stable. While they were paying the money that was it. [Uri and the Russians?] here, and Lipthon[?], Mark and these chaps from uptown, Andre Naude and those guys who were going to be big names, they are in an alliance at the moment with the Sexy Boys, [Jerome Booysen] and those guys, and those guys are entirely unpredictable. Uri at a birthday party swears in a joking way and gets shot after his party. Just after he drives outside of [?] with his daughter. You know it’s a different dilemma. You know they did the same to [Beker?]. He went to see Jerome after that, he suddenly gets hit. They are business guys, but firstly they have their own code and you are always an outsider when they deal with you. Okay.

Amandla: So that’s one of the whole unpredictable…

JV: Yes completely. You see it’s opportunism. If some [?] Triad comes up to him tomorrow and says listen I’ll pay you more for the product, he’ll give it. And if you hassle him in the process he’ll deal with you. There’s no exclusivity in monopoly. They don’t operate… only monopolies.

Amandla: And Nigerian/Moroccan syndicates?

JV: Nigerians got killed in Sea Point.

Amandla: I heard about that.

JV: Ja. They have sort of settled themselves into being the suppliers. They will try, they have some trade here and there. But, they are tolerated and they must pay. Okay. But, Cape Flats gangs relate to you from the skill that you provide.

Amandla: And is the [unclear?]

JV: Yes. Let me take an example. Some of the master bond fraud guys, and guys like […Ali?] with the big investment frauds, they ended up being 26s in prison. They were recruited primarily because of their skill because the 26 gang is about making money, but you make it intelligently with cons and those sorts of things. And they were very impressed, to get the thousand rands they must to this. These guys get millions. The 26s must learn this technique. And they learned it through recruiting them. It was not strange to later arrest Mitchell’s Plain as part of this gang that run a credit card scam or run this scam. They learned it from there. The hothouse dagga planting thing [?] wasn’t a thing you found in Mitchell’s Plain and this area. You find it now but where does that skill come from? It comes from [unclear?]. They recruit you because they want in the Number that skill.

Amandla: So it’s the of [breeding?] of skilled white-collar criminals in a prison environment.

JV: Yes. A lots of them became 26s. Either 26s or 28s because these guys are walking money. You see to a 26 you are money. Hulle praat, hulle se: ‘ouens, kan jy die geld…[unclear]’. It means that you are the opportunity. You are the money. You are an object. So they look at that and the skill of gaining money is part of their normal laws or their way. They make excellent business. I don’t see any difference between them and the CEO of the company. They don’t need infrastructures.

Amandla: So, are you saying the international link…

JV: It’s not as if… if you’re talking about borders opening you’re talking about greater supply, you’re not talking about control. You’re talking about more supply lines.

Amandla: So the power of Nigerians and Moroccans is overstated?

JV: No, it’s not power. It’s supply. Power is something different in the [gang/game?], because power comes with force and control. No Nigerian can walk into Mannenburg and sell drugs. He’ll die. You don’t see them there. Sometimes even if you see them here trying something out here, they’re quiet, they have much more covert networks not only because they don’t want to be seen by us but because they don’t want to be seen by gangs, because they’ll get killed. That’s how it works.

Amandla: Very interesting. And I mean the other question I wanted to ask is: you’ve explained it very well but when a new drug comes into the market it has effects, I mean what sort of effects has tik had on the structure of gangs or has it not really had effects on the structure in terms of distribution…

JV: Look the structures grow independent of the drug. With the immediate shift in the 70s to mandrax… can I jsut put it this way: the gangs grew through [spatial…?], that came as the first part, that’s how the footprint spread. Whether it’s inside prisons Numbers coming out and spreading to all other prisons because of a strategy to break them up up there, or whether it’s through the Group Areas breaking up certain areas and spreading. That is how it grows. It grows independent of the drug’s presence. It’s a means of organised survival in a perverse way.

Amandla: Tell me this thing of coloured identity amongst young people and their attraction to…

JV: To that? Well all I can tell you is that: firstly, starting with the Number, if you understand the language it redefines everything human. You speak a new language. You have new symbols through which you look at reality. You have a new… there’s nothing that gives you that sense of identity in Hanover Park. [unclear]. You do not walk around fearfully anymore being preyed on by other gangs because you are a [unclear]. The stronger your gang is. If you are an HL people think twice before dealing with you, unless it’s an American from [unclear] side, where you are killed automatically. But, wherever, it is the brand. It is the power that comes with that myth of what he represents. You know, if I approach you for something and ask you for money like a 26 would – ‘can you please give me some money’. You don’t know the guy from a bar of soap. That is a nice shirt you have. You don’t know the guy, but you know that he’s a 26, that he comes with that. You give your scarf and you give your shirt and money. You understand what I’m trying to say. It’s the type of power that comes with being […?]. The power of shooting somebody and being a hit-man and knowing somebody else is going to take the fall. Where do you get that [unclear]. So that is what I’m trying to say. The number makes a philosophy out of it, makes a belief system out of it. You get told all these myths about the great fight between [unclear] and the eight stars falling form the sky and the seven start falling into the green grass…

Amandla: It sounds religious.

JV: Ja, it really is. It’s so encapturing that it’s easy to become part of it. And with the whole secrecy of prison, you won’t know the whole number, the whole story you can only know once you are Makwezi[?] in the 26s, which is above the rank of a fighting general. We will give you a little bit which is particular to your number, the compartmentalisation. And for those who are young it’s exciting [whispers] I want to be up there, I want to be a [?] I want to be a captain. These things come at a price.

Amandla: Tell me, the Pagad vigilante phenomenon of the late ’90s right. Now they took out quite a few people…

JV: Maybe some of them were drug dealers themselves…

Amandla: How significant was it in disrupting the leadership and creating a vacuum…

JV: It didn’t. You see the popular myth is one thing. The reality we know on the ground is something different. Let me take an example. You know what the HLs did in response to Rashaad Staggie. Firstly, they kidnapped a driver. They wanted his father because his father was in the video, they studied the video. They gave an instruction: every single one on that video must be killed with the exception of the [journalist?]. So what they did is [unclear] because we went the guy who did that, one of the HL guys. And then his father didn’t [bribe?] so they decided to kill him. Another old man whose family was from Portland but he lived behind Wembley. He was kidnapped and tortured by the HLs and the Americans. They banded together. Together with [unclear] and those guys from Kensington. They decided to eliminate everyone. They kidnapped him, they killed him. There was delivery chap also. They had the memorial… not a memorial, the usual thing at the house, they went in and killed four of them, four of the people there including his daughter and his son and other family members. This is what I’m trying to tell you: there’s a time at which Pagad realised this comes at costs. And you must understand the dominant leadership of Pagad were middle class kids. Maybe smoked mandrax and some of them…

Amandla: [inaudible]

JV: Ja, they were middle class kids, with the exception of a chap like Ebrahim Jennike [sp?] who was a working class boy from Mannenburg. He had the guts to walk up to you and shoot you straight in your head and those kinds of things. He had that. None of these Adbusalaam Ebrahims [sp] – fine they had the theory – but they didn’t have enough [unclear] to put guts to the theories. The working class boys from these areas had the guts to do the jobs. Here and there [unclear]… but the moment some of them tasted prison then everything collapsed, all that theory. But the chaps with the guts…

Amanddla: So you mean taking out the core and that disrupted nothing.

JV: No, it doesn’t matter. The structure is an organism that reproduces itself, okay. It doesn’t matter who it is. It even takes out its own leaders if those leaders don’t support the functioning of the structure. Rashid Staggie and his brother were at the start of the Hard Livings. The Hard Livings now is an organism way beyond what it was when we sent him to prison 10-11 years ago.

Amandla: How?

JV: For example, when he was in one of the unique things he had, because his brother was a 28 general and he was a 26 general, that’s what made that gang so unique – it was the only gang that combined both 26s and 28s in one fold under a different identity. You do not get that in other places. It’s either 28 or 26, your Fancy Boy and you 28 or your American and your 26 in some other cases. That was unique. And that, Rashaad Staggie died, then the first group started going [unclear], those 28s that were part of it started having issues with Rashid’s 26 leadership. But the other thing about Rashid, because he’s a fighting general in the 26s, at his level he makes decisions in a highly centrist way. And a fighting general in the prison system controls what you call [Zomkhozi], all the wealth of the gang, determines the distribution. He applied that to his own gang. So he had a very centralist way of controlling. When he went to prison, as happens with all of these things, all of those things collapsed. And for a while the Staggies’ [unclear] disappeared as a feature. They broke up into separate chapters – Watson stayed in Mannenburg, Donovan went to Ocean View, the other guy Gareth went to Mitchell’s Plain, other guys went to Delft [sp?]. So they took a piece of the wealth with them, transplanted the franchise to those areas, but it wasn’t really what it was when it was [unclear] district 6 thing. They spread that.

Amandla: Was it [appointment?]

JV: No, simply because there was a vacuum. Staggie never developed second layer leadership. [unclear]. He’s a Number man.

Amandla: So there’s a hierarchy.

JV: The number follows a strict type of progression with certain acts that must be fulfilled at certain times in your history to achieve a certain thing. Staggie didn’t empower his people. Watson and them were [unclear]… They never really gave these people something. When he went in, people came together and said okay, I’m going my way and that’s how they did it. He will not be able to, if he comes out, like he is now and he wants to take control of that, they will kill him. If he comes there again with his fighting general number. Do you know how it works? If you’re an officer in the Numbers, 28s, if I walk around outside and say who’s that there, oh he’s 26. I say hoe gaan dit and the guy must recognise me. If he doesn’t recognise me it’s a problem. And part of that recognition involves recognising that because I’m the senior year, your camp is part of my camp, and because your camp is part of mine your assets are part of my assets, so if need money to survive you will give it to me. So those are the kind of things that come with that.

Amandla: So if ever…

JV: If ever, they will kill him. I’m telling you they’ll kill him. And he doesn’t have that fear amongst the soldiers. You see, the base level of the HLs now are younger guys who would never in his time been HLs. Staggie and Rashaad had this thing where you can be lighty here and once you get older and show your guts and you become a Hard Livings gang member. But then you must be [unclear]. Do you understand? You can see the photos, the people around Staggie earlier, you can see its older guys, late 20s and that, not 15/16 year olds. A lot of them now… while he was in prison the HLs who were outside needed to defend their ranks against the Americans [unclear]. They recruited all these younger guys into their fold. That’s why that boy was shot at [?], he was an HL. He came from the Stuper[?] Gang that was incorporated into the HLs. You understand. That’s part of that particular process. But those lighties are unpredictable. I mean what does fighting general mean to them

Amandla: So he’s a man of yesterday?

JV: He’s a man of yesterday. The best thing for him to do is for him to sort of… I was the one opposing his [stutters]…

[inaudible]

JV: You know, I tried everything with this thing. I was saying firstly, okay fine, correctional services is saying in terms of internally your record is clean and you’re rehabilitated. But I’m not here to measure you in terms of what correctional services says, you might have been an angel inside. I’m talking about what you are outside. You are a fighting general in the 26s. By the way you are the most senior person in prison at this moment in the 26s gang in this country. Secondly, you are still regarded as the leader of the Hard Livings[?] gang, one of the most powerful gangs in Mannenburg. What are you going to do with that to do something constructive outside? Then he shocked me entirely; he said no he’s going to denounce the number. I said do you know what that means, and he said ja no he’s prepared to take… and he went on and said that God told him to do it. The second thing is that I said but the HLs, that’s another matter entirely. He said no then he’ll denounce the HLs too. And on that ticket he convinced the other people on the parole board. The parole board are civilians, ne. We just come, correctional services come and say we did this [unclear] with the guy and say this is the problem. So he convinced them. But he can’t go back. If he goes back he’s going to die. Now I’m not convinced that, you know… Rashid is also a certified sacrifice. Certified.

[inaudible]

JV: Not allegedly, certified, that medical thing, because he was treated. No I’m not sure whether you know… that is a different type of mindset. A person who is used to the type of power that man has. I really don’t know.

Amandla: It doesn’t relinquish that easy hey?

JV: It’s not easy. I mean, in the Numbers, I’m telling you another 26 lighty comes up and tells him fuck you, who are you? He’s going to react from another instinct.

Amandla: Tell me we’ve…

JV: What I want you to understand is the class dimension, the material dimension of all the things. When we talk about gangs and response, we’re talking about the development of policing.

Amandla: This is fascinating stuff.

JV: Policing. Colonial policing was about protecting class interests.

Amandla: If you could just suggest any readings or any sort of things to investigate we’d really appreciate that.

JV: Okay, if you really want to.

Amandla: I really want to

JV: One of the most brilliant writers on the early history is Charles van Onselen

Amandla: Yeah I’ve read his…

JV: Get a paper of his titled ‘Regiment of the Hills’

Amandla: I think I’ve got it.

JV: Read that. He writes a small book, I think ‘A Matter of a Small Horse’ but that’s one thing. If you want to understand the environment he’s by far the authority on the earlier period.

Amandla: That New Babylon book I’ve gotten. I haven’t read it but I’ve got it.

JV: [inaudible] is it out already?

Amandla: It’s been out for a while. I’ve got an old edition from like 20 years ago.

JV: Okay, I wrote something as a manual to instruct people on the Number and the language and all those things. Read Steinberg’s[?] stuff because he consulted with me.

Amandla: Yeah, the Number?

JV: The Number. But if you understand the story of that general he’s telling you’ll understand what he’s going to face on the outside. That is to see what such a person has to go through. What else is there?… But coming back to the… [inaudible – something about Steinberg’s book The Number] That is the one he consulted with me on. I’ll tell you how The Number came about. I know Jonny quite well because he did some work in Pollsmoor and he wrote a small track. And then he was referred to me in terms of the Number from guys in prison, because they told him he’s a cop who knows the language and can speak the thing. So he ended up speaking to me and I ended up giving him those things I wrote. But, one thing, what happened there is the actual chap he interviews I got from prison to speak to him. Okay so what I did is: I told him, you record that chap to tell you exactly as he says.

Amandla: Are you talking about…

JV: Yeah [inaudible]. So I said then you bring it to me and I’ll interpret what he says, and I’ll tell you he’s bullshitting you here and those kind of things. So that is how the relationship has been. So that’s an important book but from the personal type of dimension. But when you look at the early history that will be that. What else… You see most of these 80s, 90s period you won’t get stuff. [Don Pinnock sp?] wrote but he mostly focused on the youth phenomena. Some of his understandings about the number were faulty. Because he didn’t understand the language you see. The symbols, the slight shift in a tattoo between, you know those pillars that they have opened and close, between where the sun is positioned. Those types of dynamics you need to understand in order to do that. But, coming back to the peoples’ policing notion, you’ll probably pick up in the media that the people, the city has quite an issue with [unclear] my criticism of programs like Ceasefire and those kind of things. Part of the reason is: the issue is that there are people who if you organise them correctly can deal with these problems at grassroots level. You know you just need to tap into it. You don’t need easy recipes from other countries to deal with it. But the most important thing is: I want you to look at, there’s a model that I’ve been arguing some of the street committees in Mitchell’s Plain should start looking at. [Stutters] Okay let me explain. In Latin America in San Salvador, after the conflict there emerged a lot of youth gangs.

Amandla: Yeah like MS13 [sp?]

JV: Ja, Mara [sp?], they called them collectively the Mara across that whole belt from Mexico. [tries to remember a name]

Amandla: The one based in LA?

JV: It started in San Salvador

Amandla: Yeah so we’re talking about MS13.

JV: I’m talking about the original group

Amandla: Yeah.

JV: Go look at their approach. Their approach says that in areas where the state materially has been unable to deliver, and in San Salvador parts where policing also does not deliver, the only approach to the problem involves transforming those very structures. That’s the first premise. If the gangs are the cause of the conflict, try and transform them into something else. It has a philosophy, a four prong strategy: the first part involves reconnecting the gang member to the other organised structures of his normal life, the family. So they have a big particular program dealing with, if you were part of that, reconnecting you with the family. So a lot of their social investment foes into that. And they’ve aligned certain progressive organisations to be focussing on funding and activism around building families in the areas where the gangs were strong. Reconnection. It’s a vert concrete level. The other part involves, after you’ve done that or you’ve got them off drugs, getting all the drugs is not a chemicalised process in only that. They [?] social links. For social links you need community communication. That type of principle. So that have a lot of emphasis on that instead of only emphasis on rehabilitation by taking you away to a place or that kind of thing. They don’t have that kind of notion, they’re primary level is primary level care. The third dimension is after you’ve gone through this process, you’re integrated via the family, your problems are being dealt with, your gang becomes a civic structure.

Amandla: A civic structure?

JV: Yes, let’s continue. Or part of the civic movement that exist. To agitate against the material conditions that produce you. But as part of normal… You’re not doing it as the Mara or that, now you’re doing it as part of this. But we’re taking that principle that you have of cohesion within the gang, and transplanting it and channelling the thing to a different program. So you see you start from the micro [inaudible]. So that is it, but that whole process involves empowering the people and building capacity amongst the people. You know it doesn’t involve foreign funded advocacy.

Amandla: And that’s contrary to the entire myth and plans for development here.

JV: Ja contrary to the Ceasefire thing. You understand this involved empowering people. That is the important difference in the way we look at the thing. That is a good international precedent.

Amandla: If you can send us a link we’ll definitely check it out.

JV: I can.

Amandla: We’ll get your details from you, your email.

JV: Okay but that is a practical example because they work under conditions similar to that, and in studying gangs…

Amandla: Tell me, in Mannenburg the Ceasefire thing is a crazy thing because it all it allows is for the drug thing to go on. It’s a veneer.

JV: No the only reason you can get an agreement between people is on their terms and their framework, not yours. And that’s what we’ve been trying to tell priests and all these idealists who’re trying to do these things.

Amandla: On whose terms?

JV: On the gang terms. Because you go into a meeting and you open up and you chair, it happened to the chap who started the ISS, they went and started chairing the meeting and it was the HLs and the Americans and the Clever Kids from that time in the early 90s. So they went into this meeting and then the guys spoke a whole different language, and then for two hours they couldn’t understand what the hell the people were saying . When they finished people walked out and thanked them for bringing them together for this meeting saying there’s peace now, you can go and make your press announcement. But what literally had happened is the following. Okay. You kill the captain of our side, we won’t kill… you don’t have a captain in your gangs, so three sergeants will be fine, their blood will be fine in equivalent to that. But, we don’t want an incident so you kill your guys yourselves. So we’re equivalent in the levels of blood. It was exchanged. Secondly we fought about this part of Mannenburg. Okay fine, we agree in terms of the street sales. You can put three more guys but with the Clever Kids it was the taxi being taxed as they come into Mannenburg off Duinerfontein Road. [unclear] I’ll have a [unclear] and you’ll. have a [unclear]. Because the fight was about, by the time you pay your taxes the taxi will be gone down…

Amandla: So you’ll split you protection racket?

JV: Yes. Say okay fine. The HLs, the Clever Kids that time of the war they were sitting on a gold mine. Because as you come into those flats that was their territory. By the time they tax you you don’t have money to pay further down as you go down. That’s what the war was about. It wasn’t about drugs. The Clever Kids were not even into drugs at that point in time, it’s only much later because of the protection route entry from Duinerfontein road, there wasn’t a Nyanga junction. And it just so happened that these Clever Kids happened to be there and they taxed the taxis as the only source of income. But in this meeting I’m talking about was, okay we’ll share with the HLs, not the noble idealism of the guy who went to [?]. You sit there and you get [?], like this MEC who sits there and gets cut out. Then they tell him afterwards [whispers]… and he believes all of this. All they needed, because at some stage having this constant war is bad for business because it attracts major policing, so they needed a party to get them together because they would not get together normally. Okay so only this neutral party of a priest or imam can bring them together. But once they’re there they serve no purpose. Their own agreements and their code determines that. You see, so I don’t see anything in the ceasefire. This thing doesn’t take symptomatic solutions. Like that [unclear] program that I’m talking about its long term, it’s transformative, it’s programmatic. You work to change according to a programme. You don’t come with fire brigade type of tactics.

Amandla: But fire brigade tactics are good for election time.

JV: No well that’s why I don’t do it. I don’t believe. It’s a monumentous waste of state resources, like this Mannenburg thing in the schools. Why go to the schools? The threat was never really on the schools, the threat was on the streets neighbouring the schools.

Amandla: Sure. So the strategy of open up rehabs and…

JV: Rehabs are for certain levels of specialised treatment but the moment we follow the neo-liberal model of commodifying treatment for what is a social ill, we create problems. I’m not saying that level of specialisation is not required. It is. But the mainstay of what you do should be preventative work involving the power of the community through the structures of the community. And that is a skill the community have. You must just bring them together and mobilise them in that way. You don’t need foreign funding. You don’t need to inject specialist experts or academics to do that. People know how to do these things. The poor have the most amazing… how do you think they survived under the conditions of Elsie’s River after all these years, generation after generation. There must be some collective capacity to that. If you can take it, organise it, and mobilise it in that particular way minus all the political ballgames that are being played, you have an amazing resource. But I mean you live in a neo-liberal type of environment.

[unclear, interviewer asks about an acronym VPU]

JV: Violence Protection Unit? [unclear] Firstly let’s talk about that. That program [?] gentrification, and used Woodstock as an example. It comes from Chicago, the neo-liberal model [unclear]. Where it’s the same type of thinking. Out-upgrade [?] the problem. All you do is dislocate it. So Woodstock used to be a problem so we gentrify Woodstock and the problem can’t afford to stay there any more so they more to [Tafels…?] If you transplant that to areas in Mannenburg it’s the same principal. What happens is all [unclear] you take this area you build it up primarily business orientated. You ensure it has proper security, try enforce policing to sort of centre itself around it, and you hope the impact of that would further move away… but that doesn’t happen. You improve the material conditions where they are, make it even. It doesn’t start with developing a middle class, that is a myth. There is no middle class to develop homegrown in Khayalitsha. Wherever you build, if you build down the promenade you bring in big capital. It will be the Pick ‘n Pays, the Woolworths, all the big ones. That doesn’t impact on crime. What I can tell you, on the large size of the mall where there used to be low-cost housing they suddenly disappear because you’ve displaced them. So it’s a perverse solution. But my biggest problem is that it focuses on the development only of the petty bourgeoisie and their material needs, which represent a very minute part of that whole infrastructure [on?] Mitchell’s Plain. And once again it forces policing into a protective model of a class enclave inside those areas. One of the biggest complaints I used to have against [?] is there’s no vans around the promenade. I’m more concerned with vans and dogs, really, than whether Woolworths gets robbed. Because Woolworths ploughs nothing into it. They are just Woolworths, they are [?] in the middle of the place. So that’s the first tactic. So if one is talking about violence prevention through [unclear] that is part of a full package of looking at all levels of material deprivation that contributes to the type of criminality. But then you must be doing something [unclear], then you must actually be [?], then we’re talking about footprints, infrastructure like business, all of those things. The whole notion to me, is quite averse to you know, that we need to be worried whether capital is here because if capital is here then everything is going to grow – its bullshit. That type of thinking informs that type of thing. That’s why my ideological position is that but from a policing position it just imposes, that type of philosophy sometimes imposes the frame or model of policing, I should put it that way

Amandla: And what you said earlier, if you actually look at grassroots the poor have tremendous agency.

JV: Of course

Amandla: And would you say that in terms of the developmental state we’ve lost that?

JV: I have a different understanding of the state, I don’t believe in this development state notion.

Amandla: In terms of what is there. Is there any…

JV: The problem with the kind of developmental state model as it is argued here, it rests on the same assumptions as the VPVU [?] approach. Bring capital and develop a middle class and that is the ultimate solution to the problem. I don’t share those sentiments. I’m saying you measure society by the material difference it made to the poorest section of society. That is the yardstick. [unclear] What difference does it make to the rural poor and the most destitute in our environment, that is the measure, that is the yardstick, not whether we have Woolworths in Mitchell’s Plain or Nyanga. It’s a perverse type of contradiction. I think that’s the sense in which I look at it. Because what does this investment mean? How much local labour that progresses to benefit beyond the casual labour has gone into Pick n pay’s in the promenade? Pick ‘n Pay on the promenade runs with casual labour.

Amandla: It leaves no plumbers behind or architects…

JV: Even the building of that type of thing, they say they advance local, and then you come to it people are doing the [?] job, the skilled artisans are not being utilised in those thing. Because of unnecessarily complicated corporate tender type of things. I’m not saying we must relax it but what I’m trying to say is the whole tender process as it comes with some of these things has to do, in the business part, you need a team of corporate lawyers and massive infrastructure in order to qualify. [unclear]

Amandla: The corporates are basically commercialising simple service delivery.

JV: Commodifying it.

Amandla: Yes, commodifying it.

JV: There are some things that should not be commodified.

Amandla: Yes and what is this call for foreign investment but a call basically to break up unions.

JV: The interesting thing is the conflict within the city around the water meters things. What happened is the street committee infrastructures that we had created led the anti-water meter campaign in [Talfels?]. People were saying the police are behind this [unclear]. And ti was generating… Eventually they wanted us to tackle them. I said no. This system you’re introducing here, you’ve commodified the basic service delivery of water to people in this environment. It is what is causing your council trucks to be stoned. You’re being chased out of a meeting? I’m not going to police that, why must I police that. The factor that generated some problems, and a lot of people have problems with that…

JV: The type of demand that is constantly articulated through the (army); there are two things that I’m quite clear about: One is that I listen to media commentary and analysts. It is an entirely middle class type of demand. It is significant that where that demand is made is usually from communities, middle class sections of the community who are border in the working class areas where the gang problem is. In other words it’s Lavender Hill in relation to Muizenburg.

A: Can you expand on this?

JV: Yes. It’s Mannenburg in relation to the affluent suburbia. That’s the first problem. It is never in terms of where the problem is more prevalent, which is the Nyanga area, the deeper parts you go into Mitchell’s Plain. There we never have that demand. The other part of it that makes it quite suspicious from a class point of view: it is always in areas where the children of the working class are attending schools in a cross-over area across the border in suburbia, so the demand becomes stronger because Lavender Hill kids are also attending school up in [?] or in other areas. So it is those factors that influence a lot…

A: The free movement of labour?

J: Yes, the labour issue. If you are sitting in Constantia or Kirstenbosch and your concerned about Lavender Hill is about the child who works in your house that’s a different thing. So a lot of the concerns comes from a perverted sense of looking at the problem. The problem is the supply of labour to [?]… and that to me is the wrong way of doing it. Because if you don’t look at that that’s the convenient way to ignore the fact that people live in Tafelsig 20 in a house. And that causes tensions and those problems that there’s a limit of resources. You don’t want to look at that so you gloss over these other factors to justify it. So that is the one part that I want to make clear. So it’s more about the demand for containment. And the other thing to me is the type of morality that says that you use a militarised approach to dealing with the problem is an approach that says everybody there is the same, so you treat the whole of Lavender Hill like a battlefield. Now I’m a trained soldier also so I know from that perspective, that we must move in as infantry, cordon sanitaire, and deal with it. In that approach you do not apply discrimination between the people who are really the problem and… It is the type of logic…

A: And aren’t you asking a military reaction as well?

J: Sire

A: And are the military even trained for these situations?

J: And we have a constitution where in policing we are forced to justify every single act we do constitutionally. We cannot decide: we’re not quite sure but somewhere somebody is busy with drugs in Rochester Hill [sp?], we’re going to cordon [Rochester Hill] from the top to the bottom. I mean, that is the easy way out but that is what a military type of mindset will do – treat everybody as a hostile, the ground as hostile. So that is the path that comes with it. But a lot of that logic comes around to thinking: contain that thing there, just don’t let it spill over to our side. So those are some of the class dimensions to me which is a fundamental problem.

A: And also there are two sides to this question. One is that are the military even trained to deal with this situation?

J: No, no they are not. They are not. Let me be clear, they’re not. Where we in the past have used military, I’m going to tell you about a specific type of competency. Like for example, we don’t have the capacity to cover the abalone deep-sea smuggling operations from the coast straight to the link-up of ships. We don’t have the capability in policing, we’re a land-based resource, so the navy assist us with that. We do not, for example, have long-range chopper capabilities. Most of the choppers you see are urban, so the Oryx of the air force do good work for us in terms of the policing where you have to go large expansive distances and those kind of things. So those are the things. It is never base on the boots-on-the-ground type of thing, because boots on the ground must react when there’s a problem. And if I am deployed with an R5 walking through Manenburg and I’m an infantry trained person, and I get shot at, I’m going to activate my squad and concentrate fire. We’re going to start with suppression fire on the problem, and if you understand what suppression fire is it’s not aimed. It comes generally force, we suppress, and then we move in to flank the enemy. So those are the full logics. A police officer will never think like that. The emphasis would be: I want to find the one person.

A: So you’re acting on the way you were trained?

J: Yes, right. And if you’re not trained for that then you cannot act in that way.

A: The other question I have is: in some sense I feel that these calls for military intervention are just sort of political posturing that is not going to happen. It’s just a way at sort of like one-upmanship, and exploiting the issue for political gain rather than being any sort of serious proposal.

J: You see the call for military intervention in crime situations [inaudible], it’s usually an issue that is voices quite strongly for the middle class. Let’s take the States – when did cocaine become an issue in the States with the [?] cartel, that necessitated its declaration as a clear present danger therefore requiring military intervention? When? Was it at the time when it affected working class? No, it is when the working class trafficking started moving into your suburban middle class areas

[inaudible]

J: And that’s all over. Even go now to Russia. The Russian mafia they were always there… exactly the same. But the moment they started moving into the more urban environment where your engagement is now the middle class, then all these extreme types of actions – bringing in the special force, sending the Delta Force in – those things become articulated. So it has always been tied more to the interests of the middle class and the sentiments expressed by them.

A: And then of course the symbolism here of sending the military into the townships is…

J: Ya. What happens is I asked, when I was in Claremont when they sent me there, I listened carefully to the way people in Sea Point [?] talk. They talk about, yo know, people must patrol more and search people more on the streets of Claremont and all those things. Now when you ask them who, then they will say no people who commute in and out, they bring the problem here. Now do you understand what I’m trying to get at? You always, with those types of methods, of extreme methods, it’s an approach of containment here, and keeping us from being contaminated.

A: It’s the other.

J: It’s the other. Now in crime there’s no other in this. There’s no other in fighting crime here. There is no difference between a rape occurring in Camps Bay and one in Khayalitsha, it is a rape? Like I told you the [Meriwether…?]. If that had happened in Manenburg you would have had serious [?] and all those kind of things

A: Tell me what kind of audience is there in the police services for you analysis?

J: Let me tell you, what I’m telling you now is only possible… Okay, the police is contested. It’s one of the largest state organs that exists. The prevalence of these ideas and their spread… it’s like a normal [war…?] position hegemonically [?], but because of the these things, whether or not you understand the work in […?], you are going to do it. You’ll even use the exact words also. It doesn’t mean you understand it, you know it. What I’m trying to say is that it’s one of the disturbing things of our environment, that’s why it can be so open to abuse. So a lot of it depends on the leadership and what not, and I’ll be honest with you although you’re not going to write this… but I’ll tell you that in the Western Cape there’s Peter Jacobs. Now Peter Jacobs and me were on Robben Island together, so people understand [we are a meeting of minds?]. He studied policing in some other countries I studied [in?], so we’re both Marxists, so we both think in the same way. We are able to articulate what we do in operational terms because we are operationally well-trained. You understand? So we are people to be this counter-hegemonic force against, for example, other you look at. So what I’m telling you is, where it is which influences, it is us who brought our influence, that’s why we located ourselves more in the working class part of the town. Because we wanted to firstly bring the resources. And that we’ve done successfully strategically, otherwise you would never have had Nyanga station…

A: And this is a legacy of that?

J: Ja, that footprint is part of that. But at the strategic level, like I said, where we are now we influence things differently. [inaudible]

A: The other question I want to ask [background noise] – and this isn’t necessary going to be published, it’s more for curiosity – so what is your feeling on how much the police are [inaudible]

J: Okay, firstly I do not believe that – and this is not because of the DA, I’ve said the same things about [?] – I do not believe in a police incompetence and I’ll tell you why. It’s one of the most powerful, it can be one of the most powerful infringing capabilities the state can use to people’s democratic rights. There’s nothing else that is as powerful as that, not even the army, the police as a security, as an oppressive apparatus, it’s one of the most powerful. I believe that it needs, in order to maintain constitutional control, it needs a very centrist form of political control, let me not confuse this with party control, constitutional control. And given that we’re dealing with such a sensitive institution it needs sometimes to be regulated quite rigidly, so that you not have the discretion of a provincial commissioner what we had in the Marikana case. You understand? Now the same applied to municipal capabilities, even more so. A municipal capability deals with violation of bylaws, which to me, one part of it is, they’re not subject to the same constitutional scrutiny that we are. For example, they can do a [?], you build here and extend that. I’ll tell you what’s the difference between what we can do and they can do. They can come here, give you a warning, give you a notice, and if you don’t do it they break it down. Me as a police officer will never be able to do something like that, I’ll have to jump through a few constitutional rules, get an interdict, go through a whole process. A lot of what the bylaw part of their work often results in is very weakly regulating type of controls to prevent human rights violations. Think about it. And I think such functions should be brought up into a much more controlled central capacity that is constitutionally governed much more tighter than at the moment. I’ll take a practical example: the issue of street vendors.

A: A recent example.

J: Okay, what makes you fine for you to it at Belville station but not in St George’s? I want to tell you there is a regulation that it must be done and we must regulate it. But I want to show you how class interest and things play a role. They will then interpret it that in the central we will not allow this or we will police it in that way. In Belville or in Mitchell’s Plain town centre because of the stalls, because it’s their constituency and all that, we’re not going to apply it. Now that opens up, because of municipal policy, it opens up the process to political manipulation. You either do one thing. You either tackle the vendor under the bylaw that you might create from Khayalitsha right through to Camps Bay, irrespective of colour or whatever. You either do it collectively or you don’t, but the municipal process, because a municipality who governs this city in a neo-liberal urban environment it’s the business interests and investors that determine what we police what they police in that level or not. You understand. Now there are such powerful interests regulating it and determining the footprint of municipal policing around bylaws, it’s a problem. It’s even more tied to that, at least with us. Surely we can get a Marikana situation and we can be dealt with. With them, they’re not accountable at that level. And they can violate people’s rights. They can come into your yard, check your things. I can’t even come into your yard. I can’t come into your yard, open your gate and come and move into your space.

A: And can we have some examples of this?

J: Ja, [inaudible]. Those are some of the things. And the issue of revenue collection and policing that and the municipal thing gets involved. Like the Tafelsig water metre situation, the housing thing in terms of the [Kapteinsklip?] people. What do those issues have to do with policing? You know what might have something to do with policing is if they stat throwing petrol bombs and killing some people. Then we can talk about a violation in law that is requiring police action. But you putting up, taking your family and going to live in [?] Nature Reserve really has nothing to do with us. It has nothing.

A: It’s the same situation up there in Gauteng. So there’s no protocol possible.

J: Ja, but you see that is precisely the problem, these ‘Red Ants’, they’re not accountable to police, because policing there took a stance we don’t do. And this is where the manipulation of what I’m saying the problem with municipal capabilities is. So then they create that in order to do that, for the local, they also have a municipal police augmented by the thing. It has nothing to do with us, nothing to do with us. The execution of a [land issue?] subject to a court process [?] is something that gets executed by the sheriff. Unless the sheriff knows that he’s going to be killed or there’s clear, clear present danger to that, then they can ask us to come around. But even if we are there, our job is making sure that he’s not attacked. We have no engagement beyond that. We are not there… you understand that strong… Like I said, the thing about municipal interests determine, which is to me always class interests, determining the footprint at the municipal level, that to me is what fundamentally goes wrong. They are more prone to be abused by whatever class interests are dominant in a particular municipality. [inaudible…] …go to Marmesbury

A: So how come that the cops in Joburg resisted that being part of their [inaudible] and it’s not done here?

J: What cops are you talking about. The South African police?

A: Ja. The Metro, the anti-land invasion unit is not part of it…

[inaudible]

J: Okay, the state is a contested terrain and so is the police. I, for example, having had a practical, I absolutely refused to serve at schools, because I don’t believe in criminalising [inaudible] and I don’t believe in an unconstitutional practice because you are lazy to establish exactly who is the problem in the school, you try to take the short route and subject the kids to the same repressive arm. I understand you know it’s your son and we go, and we get him, and we take him out of the environment, and we search him, and we get it. I don’t need to search the whole school. That understanding is based on using police to scare people. We are not there to scare. There is nothing in our constitution that says that our function is to make you afraid of us. Okay. But that might be me there. In the immediate neighbouring cluster in Nyanga they do it. It’s a normal thing. You understand what I’m trying to get to. So a lot of these things come from contested terrain, different paradigms are interacting, and it takes place within the police now, let alone the metro police. Metro police is a different matter. Okay. You know, I came, and when I was confronted with this class dynamic, there was a short period when they said I must rest a bit so they put me here at this Claremont [?]. So one of the first things I did was to check compliance, so I went down the main road and I took my [inaudible], and I said, let’s look at how many of these people here have liquor licences. Two, even if they do whether they’re violated. Three, whether or not they have business. We went into [?] and there were people without liquor licences!

[Laughing]

J: We went into that whole main road section in front of [?] and not a single one, or one or two of them, had transferred, had kept the licence there of the business that was there, a pub, in 1963. Now, I want you to understand something. I want you to keep that in mind, and look at however the city is now onto its whole liquor policing. We must deal with shebeens and [inaudible]… it’s a big hoo-ha. If we are saying the argument that liquor produces, contributes to that, that we’re saying not on the basis of direct causation, but we say on the basis of two coincidental prevalence’s – there’s high murder and there’s a lot of liquor. If you even want to use that [pattern?], and you want to draw that linkage, you’re going to have to apply the laws similarly elsewhere, because the risk is the same whether it results in Nyanga in a murder or a lot of people driving drunk down Claremont Main Road. It results in acts of criminality. So one would expect that you would be as rigid in the policing of the compliance here, as you would over there. If you are saying that [the big campaign is to sit here…?] and we must go clear the children out of the shebeens and we go and there’s massive things and everybody clear up, you ought to imbibe that logic… unless you’re drawing a distinction between people and saying that the crime there and the same crime committed somehow has an elevated degree of seriousness than compared to here. So, what I’m trying to say, you understand, if you look at something as simple as that you’ll see what I’m talking about actually.

A: Just in terms of symbolic acts [that show that they’re in charge [??]].

J: Ja, that’s what policing is about. That is what policing is about.

A: Deterrent policing?

J: Ja, policing and being seen with the big guns…

A: I guess from the city’s perspective it symbolises we’re in charge, we mean business, this is how we are in charge.

J: Ja, there’s no different policing for different places. I deal a lot with that in my [college?]. I tell them what is good for Nyanga and Mitchell’s Plain is good for Cape Town…

A: You say that from precinct to precinct there’s different cases?

J: Sometimes there’s different approaches.

A: There’s still only two metropoles here.

J: Yes.

A: East and West.

J: Ja. But I want to explain it from the class, the contesting… One factor is the old way of doing things. The other one is, you go speak to a cop here in Claremont and ask him, [[inaudible] go talk to him, say you better go work there, and he’ll say no I don’t want to work amongst those people in…[??]] But what is he actually saying? How is he relating to his function in relation to the constituency in which he works. He’s taking, absorbing the mantle of that constituency. For example, a housebreaking in Mitchell’s Plain is a serious crime. Why, because you’re busy paying off this thing. Most likely you’ve skipped a few months and you paid this. That thing is worth that BMW 5 series to that person. So it becomes important. However the police officer there would therefore be treating such a matter seriously. Down here in these areas people are not interested in catching the crook. They’re interested in the insurance so all they need is the number, then they have nothing to do with you. Some of them don’t even want you in their house. You understand?

[inaudible, laughter]

J: They just need [??]. The policing here often tailors itself around that. Understand? This thing of class influecing things is very, very real. The notion of business against crime, in this country, being a constituency, engaging policing as a constituency comes from where? Where? There is only one constituency in policing and that is the community. And whether they [??] or whatever, their particular class interests, theoretically, ought not to determine the rules of engagement with them, you understand. But we are so far into this process where it becomes normal to say that part of our partners of engagement should be business against crime as a constituency. And [inaudible]. The moment that we distinguish, and most of these distinctions are class, are interest-determined, and that is wrong. Understand?

A: Sure, sure.

J: Your private interests can’t determine policing, especially if they are economic interests. But at a broader macro thing in the general Marxist way, is… what we’re trying to transform internationally a lot of us, is linking police to private property. To property. You see, because the history of the way policing was formed, it was tied to the bourgeois notion of property. The consequent model of policing comes from the age of industrialisation. In [Robert Peel’s] time in Britain it was about the barrier between London East End and the more wealthy middle class. So that was policing. And that class type of understanding of policing is what influenced [??] everywhere. It still becomes that, down to the location to where you have stations, to how things are [??]. So even the concept of patrolling where you go, where do you see police officers patrol? To give you an example, where do you see them patrol? When you see them walking around.

A: Foot soldiers?

J: Ja, where do you see them? You see them here on the main road

A: CBD?

J: Yes, now the bulk of the crime is actually in the residential areas isn’t it. So you understand the point I’m making?

A: Yes.

J: It comes from the [Peel] scenario, where your first priority becomes the economic interests and the private property tied to those particular interests before you think about… So that’s what I’m trying to get to you. It’s not a South African, it’s an international thing. What we are trying to do is to divorce it. Roman Dutch law that we have here was about private ownership, that’s why you have crimes against the state, crimes against the person, and crimes against property. As distinct [inaudible] crimes against the person are the primary one, and whether the person has property is irrelevant, that’s an adjunct, you understand, to the issue. But because we must distinguish between these crimes we obviously have a different approach to policing private property. Crimes against the state, depending on who’s hegemonic in that state, is also determined sometimes by class interest. That’s why we talk about tourism as if policing tourism is the only thing in Cape Town. It’s about the revenue coming to a certain type of capital that we protect. We don’t talk about that. We cannot break the [?] here. Okay

A: Okay. Thanks a lot. Tell me, what do you say… a [??] comes into a [??] where I live. Have you ever heard about this. He says on of the problems is of Somali spaza shop owners who refuse to close down at a certain moment at night time because they don’t use the banking system they have lots of cash on them, so they attract crime onto themselves.

J: Can I explain, that definitely exposes a person to greater risk compared to another person, it has nothing to do with being a Somalian. Let me explain something to you. A lot of criminals operate around opportunity. And if you are open with a lot of cash they will get you. But it doesn’t have to do with you being a Somalian. For example, we had here even in the past six months British tobacco trucks being robbed. Do you know why? They changed their business model. They found out that they make more money instead of dealing with the legal retailer, dealing backhand with the spaza shops, because that is where they make money. So they changed their business model to get [??] and all these people to go and deliver directly to the spaza shop, and there they got targeted for robberies. Because in 100 spaza shops in one small block they’re collecting massive amounts of money, and they’re delivering large amounts of product, even more that the store around the corner, the legal store. So they created their business practice and opportunity and they got attacked. That’s how crime works. No criminal is attacking you for a xenophobic reason, because he wants you money. You walk down the street, they assess, they look at your clothes, okay let him go there’s no money[?]. Nothing to do with colour. They’re rational people criminals. If he’s there to rob you he must get something and he must get money and h assesses what to do. So that’s the first thing. It’s not about Somalians.

[inaudible]

J: That’s the one problem. There’s no evidence for crime being tied to ethnicity or national identity. Even this whole myth about Nigerians…

A: It’s nonsense you’re right.

J: But most of the times these myths are peddled to create these blanket type of oppressive approaches so we must all stop all Nigerians and that type of thing, it’s like the school thing – search the schools because all of them might potentially be a problem.

A: It’s criminalising a collective.

J: It’s criminalising a collective, that’s the key. But, in all of this never do you hear about any collective being criminalised in the middle class. When we talk about [Master Bond?], the fraud scandal, somehow we divorce the fact that the whole executive who went to jail, the CEOs of the company, from the fact that the criminal practice was institutionalised in the functioning of the company. You see when you apply the full logic…

[inaudible]

J: A different logic. But it wasn’t [inaudible]. But then it becomes a senior who frauded… You understand, individuals.

A: Thanks.

earch the schools because all of them might potentially be a problem.

A: It’s criminalising a collective.

J: It’s criminalising a collective, that’s the key. But, in all of this never do you hear about any collective being criminalised in the middle class. When we talk about [Master Bond?], the fraud scandal, somehow we divorce the fact that the whole executive who went to jail, the CEOs of the company, from the fact that the criminal practice was institutionalised in the functioning of the company. You see when you apply the full logic…

[inaudible]

J: A different logic. But it wasn’t [inaudible]. But then it becomes a senior who frauded… You understand, individuals.

A: Thanks.

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