Crime hotspot Diepsloot flares up yet again

Community complains about high criminality

21 June 2023 - 06:47
By Jeanette Chabalala
Residents lit up fires on main routes in Diepsloot in protest of crime in
the township in the north of Johannesburg.
Image: Thulani Mbele Residents lit up fires on main routes in Diepsloot in protest of crime in the township in the north of Johannesburg.

At least 20 people were killed in Diepsloot, northern Johannesburg, in the first three months of the year (January to March), making it one of the most dangerous places to live in Gauteng.

Since the beginning of June, six people were murdered in the area, police have confirmed.

It is this murderous streak, coupled with low police visibility in the densely populated area, that residents said sparked yet another community uprising yesterday, just over a year after police minister Bheki Cele promised intervention to deal with crime in the area. 

On Tuesday, residents blocked main roads leading into the township in protest against the high levels of crime.

According to police crime stats which were released by provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela last week, 17 cases of robbery in residential homes were reported in the first three months of the year in Diepsloot, compared to 57 recorded in the same period in 2022.

This either means that there were much fewer robberies this year or many residents have lost so much faith in the police that they do not bother reporting such crimes any more. 

Police spokesperson Brig Brenda Muridili told Sowetan on Tuesday that the management of the police in Diepsloot has mobilised various units to monitor the protests.

"The community is complaining of [lack of] police visibility and high crime levels, influx of illegal immigrants that are allegedly committing crime as well as other service delivery issues. These are mostly residents from informal settlements that have challenges with environmental design," she said.

Muridili said police vehicles were not able to get into the "congested areas for patrols, especially at night, as there is no electricity".

"During the day, there are foot patrols by all law enforcement agencies – police, crime wardens, metro police as well as CPF (community policing forum) and patrollers. During the night, law enforcement agencies patrol with blue lights for visibility but they’re not able to access those areas.

"The station management will continue to engage community leaders and community-based structures as well as other departments (home affairs, housing, municipality, etc) to find long-term solutions to the service delivery issues in Diepsloot," Muridili said.

"I can confirm that there were six murders in Diepsloot since the beginning of June. We have made several arrests including six suspects in a case of attempted murder and house robbery...

In April 2022, Cele promised to deal with crime in the township by bringing in 16 patrolling vehicles to add to the station's six and deploying detectives to investigate unsolved murders.

At the time Cele said the police station, which was opened in 2016, only had six cars that were servicing the township.

Cele's spokesperson Lirandzu Themba told Sowetan that the ministry is on record saying the police alone will not be able to eradicate crime.

"Drivers of crime have to be addressed by local and provincial governments and this will go a long way in assuring police to protect communities."

City of Johannesburg finance MMC Dada Morero said there are plans to develop Diepsloot, which includes some programmes for roads.

"There is a lot that is being done. The bigger issue in Diepsloot is to focus on combating crime which is escalating to levels that are unacceptable.