At the very dawn of the country’s brave new democracy, Cape Town was at war. Pagad, which started as a community protest action against crime, had mutated into a sinister vigilante group wreaking death and destruction across the city. Between 1996 and 2001, there were more than 400 bombs – most famously at the popular Planet Hollywood restaurant at the V&A Waterfront – and there were countless targeted hits on drug lords and gang bosses.
The police were at their wits end. The new ANC government was alarmed. The citizens of Cape Town were living in fear.
Mark Shaw tells the incredible tale of how the police’s response pulled together former foes – struggle cadres and the apartheid security apparatus – to break the Pagad death squads. It is a story that has never been told in full and was not possible until recently, when many were released from prison or had retired and were finally willing to talk openly about this revealing chapter in South Africa’s recent history.