Cape Town's deadliest streets

CPF members walk the dimly-lit streets of Beacon Valley to face the scourge of drugs and gangsterism.

CPF members walk the dimly-lit streets of Beacon Valley to face the scourge of drugs and gangsterism.

CAPE TOWN - It's dark and street lamps cast an orange light onto the dirty street.

Dark shadows fill corners and the cold, crisp wind bites into any flesh left exposed.

Yet, there is a sweet scent in the air, which stands in stark contrast with the menacing atmosphere.

Pink caps and blue work-issue fleece hats keep out the cold.

It's clear that some of these people have come straight from work.

Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, they're all volunteers here.

There are 350 members who patrol Mitchell's Plain's most dangerous areas and monitor the 1.5 million strong population, brokering a relationship between residents and the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Abie Isaacs, the Mitchell's Plain Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson says they work on addressing the demand for drugs here.

While the police combats the supply, the CPF tries to make sure that the community works against using.

"Let us deal with the demand for the drugs as the community. After all, it is our kids it is our brothers and sisters that are affected by these drugs."

A congregation. A short prayer. It is one that has been said before. Guide us. Protect us. The men bow their blue capped heads, and the rest of the group follows.

The lights from police vehicles wash out their faces with a sharp blue.

Constable Smith utters the blessing and everyone piles into the police vans.

Street lights, sign boards, hooded figures and gang graffiti flick past the patrol van as the team peers out of its wire mesh windows into Beacon Valley.

This area of Mitchell's Plain is marred with gang shootings, drug dealing and other violent crimes. The dark houses are sanctuaries from stray bullets, but jails for anyone who wants a normal life.

The community is afraid and members say that as soon as the police finish their sweep, the gangsters come out again.

High on tik, they fear nothing and shoot recklessly at each other.

Their bullets don't discriminate, cutting down rivals and innocents alike.

Children often become collateral damage in a war for turf.

Undeterred by the threat of violence, the CPF members walk, as they live, amongst potential gang members, stopping and searching anyone they encounter on the streets, seizing a tik lolly here, a dagga pipe there.

They know some of the young offenders, greeting them by name.

"Yes Auntie. No Auntie," is a common reply when interrogated.

They continue to serve for a better tomorrow.

One where the silence is no longer broken by the crack of a firearm, a dull thud and the scream of child. A son. A daughter. A mother or a father.