Diepsloot residents have demanded to see a decrease in criminal activity at a closed meeting with Police Minister Bheki Cele, Gauteng premier David Makhura and Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi at Diepsloot community centre on Friday.
Anticrime protests turned violent this week and led to a vigilante attack on a Zimbabwean national, Elvis Nyati, with the mob killing and burning him.
According to Bishop Setumo Dlothi of the Churches Forum in Diepsloot, criminality was at an all-time high in the area and he was happy to engage with the ministers concerning some of the issues they faced on a daily basis and discuss solutions to the problems.
“The challenges we are facing as churches is crime as well, because for a number of cases we’ve had breaking into churches during worship services, more especially during the night,” Dlothi said.
“People usually come in with guns and demand money and cellphones from the congregation and now it’s affecting almost every sector in the community and we are concerned about this.”
A community member, Lesego Selatola, said living in Diepsloot seemed like being in prison. She said residents were demanding assistance from Cele to push the Saps [SA Police Service] to work harder in combating crime and make sure criminals were arrested and held accountable.
“We’ve had instances where people were arrested for a week or so and then let out again, or in just two days. We need the minister to beef up his men and ensure they restore this place to what it was before,” Selatola said.
“We always hide our kids under the bed when we hear noises around the area, sometimes we just hear random shots and then you’d find stray bullets in the house.”
Another resident, who refused to be named in fear of being attacked, said even though the minister had deployed more police officers in the area, they still felt unsafe at night, as the police failed to patrol 24/7.
“I wish you could go into the area. It’s so packed that police cannot even patrol through the shacks and actually see what is happening,” he said.
However, Motsoaledi said while crime was not an issue of nationality, the horror stories they had heard from the community members during the closed meeting, where residents expressed their grievances, were shocking.
Motsoaledi said since illegal foreign nationals was one of the issues raised by the community, 25 immigration officers from the department of home affairs would be deployed to Diepsloot for the next three months to deal with the problem.
Meanwhile, Cele urged the community not to take matters into their own hands as he would also deploy more police officers to the area to help solve the backlog of cases at the local police station and to investigate recent murders in the area.