Life with gangs in hell of Cape Flats
WITH every rising sun there's a chance you could wake up dead in the Cape Flats - that large expanse of townships housing so-called coloured communities in Cape Town.
Book Title: Wake Up Dead
Author: Roger Smith
Publisher: Serpent's Tail
Reviewer: Don Makatile
Roger Smith writes about this possibility and the people and events that make this spectre of doom a reality.
If there are gang movies, this is a gang novel.
The Cape Flats is not a nice place to raise children and those, like Barbara Adams, who have to watch their daughters like hawks in a bid to try and stop them from the lure of drugs and the clutches of gang bosses with salacious intent.
In the end, they die with their children.
Life expectancy here is short, very short.
Young boys prefer guns for toys; not for the same reasons their peers in the normal world would childishly do. In the Cape Flats, these boys hope to graduate to the real thing.
A girl of 14 dies brutally as she picks up the gun to fight her father's drug battles.
Many of her age skip school to shoot drugs; mere cannon fodder for the local peddler who uses their nubile bodies as reward in kind for the poison he feeds them.
A family man, like Clay Adams, is killed in the open; in front of his wife, children and the whole community.
And no one dares lift a finger to the crime lords!
A straight cop not on the take, Adams was a rarity.
The man who kills him is Piper, a walking kaleidoscope of tattoos, who rules Pollsmoor, the local prison, with the iron fist of a jailbird supremo.
Each time he's due for parole, Piper kills another inmate. If this doesn't give him enough time inside, he kills a prison guard.
The outside world scares him; he's at home in prison.
And when he ventures outside in a dramatic escape, it is with the sole intention of bringing his young "wife" Disco home.
This is a sordid tale of a deranged career criminal whose 19 teardrops tattooed below his eyes represent cold-blooded murders, in and out of prison.
But you mix Pollsmoor and the Cape Flats and the result is an explosive concoction of drugs, sex and murder.
I checked to see if the writer could have taken liberties with the truth, but recalled from my 1998 trip to the area that he could not have embellished a lot, if he did at all.
The Cape Flats is a God-forsaken stretch of land where people hope for tomorrow.
Just one more night!
But, as Smith says, many wake up dead.