Poverty is painful enough when you’re an adult, but when you’re a child it’s intolerable. I first became aware of street children when my wife and I moved to Cape Town, and I embarked on a masters degree which looked into the roots of poverty under apartheid. It turned into an investigation into the destruction of the extended families of people of colour under the Group Areas Act, cruel legislation that separated the residential areas according to peoples’ skin colour. I likened it to the racial unscrambling of an omelet.
As families were moved and broken up, children were flushed into the streets of the hard new racial ghettoes. In this was the origin of massive gang formation. Children created surrogate families.
I wrote The Brotherhoods: State Control and Street Gangs in Cape Town, a book still used extensively in school and university teaching. Ten years later Gangs, Rituals and Rites of Passage followed, a book which formed the basis of a rites of passage programme with high-risk youngsters, Usiko, of which I am a founding trustee. Have a look at www.usiko.org.za/m-people.htm
I was also one of the principal drafters of an extensive study, Juvenile Justice, which began the process of legal transformation and ended in the Child Justice Act, innovative legislation which has altered the way in which the state deals with young people in trouble with the law.
Winner of City Press Non-fiction Award 2013 announced at Cape Town’s Open Book Festival
Popular travel writer and former editor of Getaway, Don Pinnock, is the winner of the City Press Non-fiction Award 2013. Ferial Haffajee, editor-in-chief of City Press, made the announcement on Sunday, 8 September, at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town. On the shortlist with Pinnock were Kagisho Montshabatho and Christelle Terreblanche.
Pinnock received a prize of R60 000 to fund the research and writing of his book that will be published by Tafelberg in 2015. In his book Pinnock will explore the underbelly of the Cape’s gang culture. He will look at how apartheid social engineering destroyed extended families, how poverty damaged nuclear families and how corruption unzipped the police. Central to this investigation is how and why young people, left to themselves and lured by wealth through crime and drugs, are holding one of the world’s most beautiful cities to ransom.
Pinnock said: “The award is a wonderful boost to my work with young people at risk. It will give me the time and space to pull together 30 years of research into the causes of crime and violence among youth in Cape Town and to work on solutions. I am deeply grateful to City Press and Tafelberg for having the confidence in me to do this. The kids are in crisis, their support systems are broken and they get the blame when they lash out. It’s an injustice this beautiful, wealthy city needs to acknowledge…and fix.”
Erika Oosthuysen, non-fiction publisher at Tafelberg, is delighted that the award went to Pinnock. “He is among South Africa’s top experts on the pervasive scourge of gangsterism. Having grappled with this tough, often heartbreaking reality for decades, he is well placed to examine one of the most challenging social problems in Cape Town.”