[LISTEN] Voice of the underworld - a 'retired' Cape Flats gangster speaks out

Meet 50-year-old Jason* from Manenberg, a former gangster with Cape Town's notorious 'Americans' gang.

He spoke to CapeTalk's Lester Keiwit about his life running with the Mother City's largest street gang.

(Listen to the full interview below)

Jason was 18 when he joined The Americans - a feared street gang and organised crime group operating throughout the Cape Flats.

He was lured in, he says, by the lifestyle. Money, women and power.

But it didn't take him long to realise he was simply a commodity, and a disposable one at that.

Once you've done their dirty work...they'll throw you in the bin.

Jason, retired gangster

Jason explains that leaving gang life isn't easy.

You'll end up dead...you know too much.

Jason, retired gangster

While seen as a brotherhood of sorts, Jason says the "gangster code" has changed over the years - meaning that for today's generation of gangsters, nobody is off-limits when it comes to revenge and retaliation.

It the past it used to be that families were a no-go, but these days - I think because of the tik - it's whoever is closest they're going to kill, because they can't find you.

Jason, retired gangster

Nowadays the youngsters are fearless...the tik makes them fearless...they don't care who's in their way.

Jason, retired gangster

Like many of the gangsters operating on "The Flats" Jason soon began selling drugs.

On a good week, he says, he could make up to R40,000.

You're like a king. You live like a king. You snap your fingers and this happens, that happens.

Jason, retired gangster

Jason said it was losing someone close to him that eventually made him leave the gang life.

I just left everything...I thought, if they kill me, they kill me...for years I thought they're gonna come for me...but I'm still here.

Jason, retired gangster

Manenberg is one of the 10 precincts where South African National Defence Force troops will be deployed to support the South African Police Service in tackle gang-based crime and violence.

It's a move Jason supports.

They're going to play a big role in helping to restore peace and order in all these ghettos.

Jason, retired gangster

Listen below as retired gangster Jason shares his story:

*names have been changed


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