Cape Town is the most dangerous city in South Africa and one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Freelance photojournalist Leon Knipe follows the
Cape Town is the most dangerous city in South Africa and one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Freelance photojournalist Leon Knipe follows the police to crime scenes and works to document as many murders as he can. The 5-minute video above by Shaun Swingler is about Knipe’s life and work (warning: it contains graphic photos of horrific crime scenes).
A man stands in a darkened room, shirtless, his body all muscles and ink. His left shoulder is adorned with an arc of onion domes and an icon. On his lower torso is a Russian Orthodox priest. His tattoos mark him as a former zek, or prisoner, and an “honest thief.”
The man is one of the subjects of Canadian photographer Donald Weber, who has immersed himself in the world of Russian and Ukrainian ex-cons, visiting them at their homes and documenting their elaborate tattoos.
“What intrigues me about the zeks is that their life is very rich in nuance and consciously layered with meaning,” Weber said in a recent telephone interview from Kiev. “Russian criminals take their tattooing very seriously, because whatever’s on their body defines who they are or what they are going to be. They can never escape it.