The source of their untamed powers is absolutely unknown, but they are now taking terrorism of several frightened neighbourhood to despicable level.

“Murderer! One day I will lock you up,” warned a member of Cape Town’s gang and drug task team who had gone in search of drugs. They came up empty: every ounce of tik had been sold the previous night. One of the men – in full view of officers – showed the Sunday Times a fistful of money he made from selling 10g of tik.

This attitude highlights what security experts say is at the heart of the gang violence that has spread from the Cape Flats to the Cape Town inner city and even the exclusive Atlantic seaboard: the perpetrators have no fear.

Experts have warned that corruption at senior levels in the police and the collapse of police intelligence are fuelling the scourge.

Gareth Newham, the Institute for Security Studies’ head of governance, crime and justice, said recent shootings outside top Cape Town nightclubs were an indication that syndicates feared no one. “They simply do not think the police are going to be a threat.”

Recently two people were injured after gunmen opened fire at popular Camps Bay nightclub and restaurant Café Caprice.

Three people were arrested and a weapon was seized, but the police docket never made it to court and the suspects were released because, said police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut, “the investigation could not link them to the case”.