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Cape Town gangs strike unprecedented truce amid Covid-19 pandemic

Covid-19 cases are mounting in vulnerable African nations, with over 500 deaths recorded across the continent so far.

In South Africa’s Cape Town, rival gangs have struck an unprecedented truce by using their drug trafficking networks to help deliver food to the poor, the BBC reports.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has since extended the two-week nationwide restrictions, which was expected to end next week, to the end of the month.

Most of the gang members in the American Gangs' turf have been in jail and some of them are killers, but they’ve come together to bag up food supplies for hungry families.

“The day the lockdown started, I got a phone call from two different gang leaders, both saying, ‘Andie, I’ve never asked you for anything but we’re starving,'" pastor Andie Steele-Smith said.

"I just thought, ‘Hey, if these guys are starving, they’re at the top of the food chain, the rest of the community is going to be in serious, serious strife.'

“The best distributors in the country, they know how to distribute things. They’re used to distributing other white powders, but still, they’re distributing things.”

The rival gangs have called for a ceasefire following the lockdown.

“There is no such thing as gangsters here. In these times, all of us stand together,” one man said.

However, local authorities are skeptical, with City of Cape Town councillor JP Smith saying he doesn’t believe the gangs’ actions “exonerates you when you’ve done so much evil.”

“One good deed doesn’t suddenly wipe it all away,” Mr Smith said.

“Maybe they can commit to slightly more long-term good. Put down the firearms permanently and stop intimidating and robbing residents, then we’re good.”

The rival gang leaders say the fighting may start up again once fears of the spread of coronavirus subsides.