Johannesburg’s western neighbourhoods of Westbury and Eldorado Park have long experienced serious problems derived from the presence of drug gangs and other forms of organized crime, resulting in a cyclical pattern of
violence and criminality, followed by backlashes in the form of community protests and state responses. Law enforcement interventions have generally only temporarily quelled the violence before another cycle of gang activity, violence and protests flares up once again. Such continual cycles have been the pattern defining this urban area since the early 1990s. The costs of crime borne by the citizens of western Johannesburg are high and it is essential to reverse the cycle of violence and despair for these communities to thrive.

This report focuses principally on gang-engendered violence in the city’s western suburbs of Westbury and Eldorado Park (and, to a lesser extent, Newclare), although other neighbouring urban areas that fall within the Johannesburg metropolitan area are also briefly analyzed. Broadly, in this urban area there have been three cycles of violence, and accompanying periods of protest and responses by community leaders and the state since the start of South Africa’s post-apartheid democratic era in 1994.