Did the coronavirus inspire an unprecedented gangland truce in South Africa? Have hardened gangsters really downed their guns and joined forces to deliver food parcels and help to the communities they have long terrorized?

These and other claims made international headlines in the wake of the country’s COVID-19 shutdown, joining a rash of media reports about gangs in Brazil imposing lockdowns in the favelas, supposedly to safeguard communities, and extortionists in Central America showing occasional leniency to those in their debt.

But the reality is often very different…

Cape Gangs in Lockdown
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Rukshana Parker

Rukshana joined us as a full-time analyst in our office in Cape Town as of January 2020.  She works on the South and East Africa Organized Crime Observatory, assassinations and gang mapping initiatives and the Resilience Fund.

Rukshana holds a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in law as well as a BSocSci in Public Policy & Administration from the University of Cape Town where she was an Oppenheimer scholar. She is also an admitted South African attorney, having practiced at a global law firm focusing on employment law, insurance litigation and competition law.

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Michael McLaggan

Michael is a full time analyst at the GI-TOC in Cape Town as of January 2020. He is currently involved in work relating to illicit charcoal trading in East Africa and work in the firearms trade in South Africa.

Michael holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Cape Town, as well as a Master of Laws in Criminology, Law and Society, also from the University of Cape Town. Among the projects he has worked on as a part time consultant for the GI-TOC last year included gang-state collusion in Nelson Mandela Bay, illicit tobacco trading in southern Africa, and firearms trading and pricing in South Africa.

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Kim Thomas

Kim is an analyst at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. Kim holds an MPhil in Public Law from the University of Cape Town and an LLB from Stellenbosch University. She has worked as a researcher on organized crime in South Africa, with a focus on human trafficking and contract killings. She is also an admitted South African attorney with experience in the legal aid sector, working on issues relating to socio-economic rights.

Kim is currently working on a project called Assassination Witness which records criminal hits in South Africa and their impact.

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