Relatives of victims of gang violence in Cape Town broke down in tears on Tuesday as they related their tragic experiences to South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma.
By Mohammed Allie
BBC, Cape Town
Gang violence has increased in recent months, claiming the lives of several people including an ANC Member of Parliament.
Gang crime has increased in recent months
And there has been a significant rise in gang-related crime since the conviction of the top structure of the anti-crime vigilante group, People Against Gangsterism And Drugs (Pagad).
Mr Zuma was visiting the Cape Flats townships, along with Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula and senior police officials, as part of the government's moral regeneration campaign.
Visiting the Ravensmead township, Mr Zuma hugged sobbing mothers and relatives who had lost young children as a result of burgeoning gang violence.
A distraught Mary Petersen recounted how her six-year-old grandchild, Tyrone, was killed in gang crossfire in her backyard.
Margaret Fray broke down as she described how her 12-year-old niece was abducted and found dead two days later in a sewer after she had been raped and savagely mutilated.
The resurgence of gangsterism follows the arrest of vigilantes
Mr Zuma told the families he sympathised with them and that he found their stories very painful.
Over the past few months several young children have been killed in the crossfire as gangs battle for control of drug sales and territory in the townships.
Hijackings have also increased. In the past two weeks ANC MP Reggie Oliphant; a recently married 23-year-old man; and a member of the Presidential Protection Unit have all lost their lives as a result of being shot during hijackings.
Cape Flats residents have complained about the lack of a concerted police and government effort to combat and eradicate the scourge of gangsterism.
They say it is fine for senior government ministers and police officials to visit them but the violence returns to their areas soon after the departure of the police and army who are often brought in to stabilise the situation.
In new effort to bring peace to the townships, the government has appointed Deputy Police Commissioner Andre Pruis to take temporary charge of the city's police force.
The number of policemen will also be progressively increased from 12,000 to 18,000 by the end of next year.