Scratching the surface of suburbia

2007-11-14 00:00

Gang warfare has broken out on the Cape Flats. It is standing room only at the Salt River mortuary and bodies are being sliced, diced and quartered like there is no tomorrow. Out on the badlands, the nights run red with revenge and the angels have gone to ground.

But, for now, let us speak of the unspoken. Let us speak of the gangs of white suburbia.

Constantia is home to some of the most sophisticated gangs in Cape Town. The Nags and the Winos have controlled these leafy lanes for decades. Minor gangs include the Spoiled Brats, the Stupid Drunk Upstarts and the Snooty Virgins.

The war between the Nags and the Winos is rarely a physical one. Instead, disdain and deprecation are their weapons of choice. The Nags operate from an equestrian standpoint while the Winos openly flaunt their knowledge of the vine.

Battles tend to be fought on neutral ground at venues like the Constantia Nek Hotel or La Colombe. At a pre-arranged time, Happy Hour, usually, the Nags arrive on horseback, the Winos in Range Rovers.

Members of the public have reported witnessing indescribable scenes of pomposity and pretentiousness when the two rivals clash.

Last week, a couple from Clovelly was shouted out of the bar after crossing both gangs. Unwittingly drawn into a verbal fracas described by bystanders as “frighteningly narcissistic” and “shamelessly egocentric”, the victims said all they did was express a preference for beer over wine and that they thought horse-riding was an oddly unnatural act.

Police say they are unable to investigate until they find an officer who can spell “supercilious” and “contemptuous”.

The gangs of Green Point have been in existence since 1700 when a Dutch deckhand by the name of Jan Feelme was banished to the area after touching Governor Simon van der Stel in what history books describe as “an inappropriate fashion”.

Over the decades, Green Point has seen gangs come and go. This inner city suburb is currently witnessing a resurgence in bandit activity. The Tailgunners, known for their elaborate moustaches and Harley Davidson-riding skills, are fighting a rearguard action against the Spanky Boys, a gang whose testicles are spreading from their traditional stamping and flouncing grounds in neighbouring Sea Point.

Initiation into the Tailgunners entails kissing a policeman.

Although spontaneous slapping occasionally flares up on Friday nights, brawls between the Tailgunners and the Spanky Boys are rare since each gang has a system of signals so complex that members often get confused as to whether they should be fighting or f***ing.

Police say they are not prepared to take action while the risk remains that officers will be deep-throated on duty.

The seaside suburb of Blouberg is the headquarters of two of the most powerful gangs to rule the northern reaches. Here, the Boers and the Surfers have been at each other's throats for the past decade. The Boers, led by Johannes “Jacobus” Droëbek have claimed the West Coast braai areas for themselves. The Surfers, led by whoever happens to be around at the time, control the beaches and the best-looking women.

Physically, the Surfers are no match for the Boers. Mentally, the Boers are no match for the Surfers. Heavy with red meat and testosterone, the Boers have been challenging the Surfers to a showdown for the past two years. The Surfers, saturated with salt water and tetrahydrocannibanol, keep forgetting where the showdown is meant to take place.

Police say they lack the manpower to deal with the situation.

A proliferation of old age homes in Fish Hoek provided fertile ground for organised crime to flourish, with gangsters holding the southern peninsula in a grip of mild consternation for much of the ninetiess.

Many of the smaller gangs have since died from natural causes but these gritty urban streets continue to be dominated by two rival gangs - the Zimmerframes and the Alzheimers. Membership to both is rigidly controlled, with the Zimmerframes imposing a minimum age of 80. The Alzheimers recently lowered their membership requirement to 75 years old, prompting fears of an all-out age war.

There is a tense standoff on Jager's Walk almost every Sunday after church services have ended. Last weekend, in one of the ugliest incidents this year, the Alzheimers, led by 77-year-old former dentist Roger “Butch” Cassady, took up positions around the fourth bench down from Bayside Café. The leader of the Zimmerframes, former legal secretary Judy “Scarface” Jones (84), arrived with six gang members and attempted to gain access to the fifth bench.

After a scuffle, a lifesaver arrived on the scene to treat two members of the Alzheimers for heat exhaustion. Later, while the Zimmerframes were drinking Salusa 45 to celebrate their victory, Cassady drove past in his Toyota Cressida.

Police are investigating reports of a drive-by hooting.

There is only one gang in Camps Bay. Others have tried to muscle in, but have failed. The Stürmabteilung have successfully defended their turf by pushing up property prices, walking around in tight denim shorts and reserving the best tables at all the restaurants.

The SA, as they call themselves, are fiercely territorial. After claiming much of Europe in the early forties, they gave it back when one of the founding leaders of the gang went on vacation and discovered Camps Bay to be a far nicer beach than Normandy.

The leadership of the SA comprises a tightly knit group of highly disciplined suburbanistas who are not afraid to resort to nudity, bondage and cannibalism when threatened.

Police say their hands are tied.

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