Americans

Probably the largest organised gang operating in the province. The gang used to be headed by the notoriously ruthless Jackie Lonte from his home in Belgravia Estate. But like several gang leaders during the late 1990s, he was gunned down in the streets in broad daylight in a drive-by shooting.

His slaying, however, had little impact on the gang's drug dealing business - their biggest source of income. The Americans gang was one of the first to flood the local market with cocaine and crack and spread its tentacles to many of Cape Town's upmarket neighbourhoods.

Hard Livings

Based at "Die Hok" in Manenberg, the gang was led by the terrible twins - Rashaad and Rashied Staggie. Rashaad's life was ended when anti-crime vigilantes torched him in a lynching in Salt River in 1996. His brother Rashied is presently out on bail after being found guilty of rape. He is appealing the conviction. The Hard Livings gang is known to be involved in a range of illegal activities from drug running, diamond smuggling, protection rackets, prostitution and shebeening. Their membership is spread across the Peninsula and they have an especially strong presence in the Sea Point/Green Point area.

Sexy Boys

Time will tell if this violent street gang can survive without their charismatic leader - Michael Booysen. Chestnut Place, Belhar is the place from which Michael, his brothers and their henchmen spread their terror and fear, holding communities hostage as they operated their illegal businesses. Whether it was a case of drug dealing, gun running or forcing taxi drivers to pay "tax" for driving through the neighbourhood, dead bodies always littered the streets. Last month the Cape High Court sentenced Michael Booysen and two of his men to life in prison. Michael's younger brother Llewellyn was gunned down three years ago. Another brother, Jerome, is holding down a "nine to five" job.

The Firm

This is an amalgamation of various street gangs operating across the province from city neighbourhoods like Valhalla Park to quaint little rural towns like Bredasdorp. Formed in the early 1990s and headed by convicted tax fraudster Colin Stanfield, the gang included some of the most notorious street and prison gang leaders such as the dead Glen Khan and Ernie "Lepepa" Peters and alleged perlemoen smuggler Ernie "Lastig" Solomon. The Firm's criminal empire was largely built on Mandrax and shebeen operations, but in recent times included the whole gambit of underworld activities.

Mongrels

This gang is one of the oldest in Cape Town and operated in District Six before the area was bulldozed in terms of apartheid's Group Areas Act. Its membership is spread across the Peninsula, but up until the death of leader Ismail "Bobby Mongrel" in April 2000, the gang's stronghold was in Lotus River. The gang's history is one of conflict with other street gangs and the situation today is largely unchanged. Gang members always seem to be in some fight for control over turf as they attempt to open new "outlets" for their drugs, shebeening operations and other illegal trade.