Diepsloot residents continue with protests as Ramaphosa fails to meet deadline

Trust promises bulletproof vests to patrollers

28 June 2023 - 07:00
By Thulani Mbele
Diepsloot residents arriving for the memorial service of John Makola yesterday.
Image: Thulani Mbele Diepsloot residents arriving for the memorial service of John Makola yesterday.

Residents of embattled township Diepsloot have on Wednesday morning warned police that they are set to take to the streets and block roads ahead of a planned protest.

Community members have gathered at Sarafina Park in Diepsloot extension eight to prepare for the protest.

The protest comes after a deadline set by the Diepsloot Community Forum and church leaders for President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in the on-going crises which has gripped the township was missed. The group had last week went to the Union Buildings in Tshwane to seek intervention. 

The wave of violence in Diepsloot was triggered following the death of former community policing forum leader John Makola.

On Tuesday residents of Diepsloot filled the Army of God Ministry church in numbers to pay their respects during the memorial service of John Makola, a father of two and former chairperson of the Diepsloot Community Policing Forum (CPF).

He was gunned down two weeks ago when he was responding to a call for help from a shopkeeper who was being robbed.

CPF members stood in a guard of honour in front of burning candles as the hymn Ho lokile, ho lokile echoed inside the church as more than 500 people sang. Police minister Bheki Cele and Gauteng MEC for community safety Faith Mazibuko were also in attendance.

Charles Khototsane, a neighbour, remembered Makola as a person who was committed to crime fighting.

"John was committed to serving the people of Diepsloot. He was available at any time of the day, even at 1am. Even the cops would call him and ask for back up. He was our father, our protector," said Khototsane.

Gail Styger from The Wot-if? Trust, a platform for entrepreneurs in the area, said: "If John had a bulletproof vest, he would probably still be alive. We are committing from our side to fundraise so that every single night patroller can have a bulletproof vest. We are going to put John's name on every single bulletproof vest so that he is with you every time you patrol."

Jacob Shiga from Riversand Concerned Group said: "We drove from the clinic to the police station and there was not a single roadblock but police cars were parked at the police station. Comrade Bheki Cele and comrade Faith Mazibuko we are tired of your condolences. Comrade Bheki Cele, I'm begging you, this is the second time now. The police must do stop-and-search patrols. When we leave here we are going back to the streets. Tonight we will sleep with rubber bullets on our backs."

The community said they also felt betrayed after their invitation to President Cyril Ramaphosa and other ministers was only acknowledged by the presidency's office without making any commitments. 

"They leave us with no choice but to go back to the streets. After the memorial, we will shut down Diepsloot for two days, bury our brother on Saturday and be back on the streets again on Sunday," said Shiga.