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‘We refuse to be killed like animals’ - Diepsloot residents

Diepsloot still under siege despite Cele’s promises

The Diepsloot Community Forum is concerned about the high levels of crime in Diepsloot and have organized for a march after several people were murdered in the past two weeks.
The Diepsloot Community Forum is concerned about the high levels of crime in Diepsloot and have organized for a march after several people were murdered in the past two weeks.
Image: Thulani Mbele

There is a cry for help from the community of Diepsloot as criminals run rampant killing, raping and attacking residents in their homes.

The township, north of Johannesburg, has been battling high levels of crime for years, leading to residents taking to the streets to voice their frustrations.

Increasing crime levels have also impacted businesses, forcing some to shut down or close early due to fears of being attacked.

According to police crime statistics, 39 people have been killed between January and June.

That is an average of one person a week.

There have been 66 cases of rape over the period under review, with 29 of these cases recorded between April and June. This puts Diepsloot in the 13th spot on this crime in Gauteng and 47 in SA.

Diepsloot ranks number one both in Gauteng and SA for assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm with a total of 208 cases recorded in the first six months of the year.

Vincent Ndou, a community leader from Ext 11, said no one can sleep peacefully.

“One sleeps with one eye open, always on high alert. The slightest sound can wake you up because you don't know if you'll be the next one to wake up with a weapon in your face,” Ndou said.

Ndou said home robberies have become so frequent that three families on the same street were recently attacked.

“Sometimes, you either wake up to hear these stories from neighbours or receive calls from people seeking help. Just last Friday, a family of four was shot.”

The family’s neighbour, Webster Patji, said Eddie Mahlaula and Sarah Maluleke were senselessly gunned down around 10pm.

He said their 16-year-old son was fighting for his life in intensive care and the criminals stole cellphones and money.

Patji told Sowetan that he heard Mahlaula knocking on his door as he arrived home.

“I was in my house and I heard him coming into the yard. I then heard commotion.

“His wife opened the door and when she realised criminals were attacking him, she tried to close the door. The criminals started shooting at Mahlaula and Maluleke. Mahlaula and his son were both shot in the head while his wife was shot on the upper body,” said Patji.

Patji said he was scared, thinking the assailants would also force their way into his house and kill him.

He said it was sad to lose neighbours he had known for more than 25 years.

“They were like family to me,” said Patji.

Another victim, Kgomotso Shika, 32, was shot and killed on Tuesday evening while he was driving a work truck. The assailants took his cellphone.

His family was too distraught to speak.

Community leader Lefa Nkala told Sowetan that about 10 residents had been killed in the past three weeks and three filling stations were bombed and robbed.

Provincial police spokesperson Col Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi did not respond to questions despite committing to doing so earlier in the day.

There was a notice that the community would protest against crime levels on Friday.

An owner of Engen filling station, which was attacked on September 2, said the company does not allow owners to conduct media interviews.

The owner of a Sasol filling station, who also wanted to remain anonymous, said his business was attacked on August 29.

“Five armed robbers carrying automatic rifles rounded up the staff that fills fuel and ordered them into the store. They told everyone to lie down while they attached an explosive on an ATM and bombed it.

“This resulted in the convenience store, equipment and stock being damaged. It will take about a month for the store to be back up and running,” he said, adding that one customer was killed during the robbery.

The convenient store is still closed.

Local businessman Rex Ngwilima, 28, who makes traditional outfits he was scared of falling victim to crime and was forced to close his shop early.

Rexroth Ngwilima, a businessman in Diepsloot is concerned about the high levels of crime in Diepsloot and have organized for a march after several people were murdered in the past two weeks.
Rexroth Ngwilima, a businessman in Diepsloot is concerned about the high levels of crime in Diepsloot and have organized for a march after several people were murdered in the past two weeks.
Image: Thulani Mbele

“This place is dangerous and it is like there is something special about killing people. It is not unusual to walk past a dead body on my way to work. I have to make sure that I am at home before it gets dark because if I don’t, I would be killed,” he said.

Gracious Siziwani from Zimbabwe has been in SA since 2019 said she has avoided being a crime victim by being home before 7pm.

“I was working but I had to stop because I was knocking off after 7pm and this was a risk. My husband, who runs a hardware, has been providing for our family since,” she said.

Gracious Siziwani a resident in Diepsloot is concerned about the high levels of crime in the area. The Diepsloot Community Forum has organized for a march after several people were murdered in the past two weeks.
Gracious Siziwani a resident in Diepsloot is concerned about the high levels of crime in the area. The Diepsloot Community Forum has organized for a march after several people were murdered in the past two weeks.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Ext 6 community leader Loyiso Toyiya said: "A week does not go by without someone losing their life. We are not even safe in our own homes," Toyiya said.

He said most crimes occur in residential homes and the police's response time is consistently too slow.

“We have WhatsApp groups where we receive alerts when someone needs help or when an incident occurs and we often arrive before the police. Many of these crimes take place in people's homes, including some of the killings, which is highly concerning,” Toyiya said.

Toyiya also added that the community is frustrated by lack of police visibility in the area.

“When Bheki Cele announced that there would be police patrols in the area, they were only here for a week at most before leaving and we haven't seen any improvements. They only remain when we make noise but as soon as something else happens, they are gone.

“We refuse to be killed like animals on a daily basis,” he said.

newsdesk@sowetan.co.za

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