Diepsloot finally gets its own police station
Eight years after talks began for Diepsloot to have its own police station, the day arrived on Friday.
The police station was built in response to the community's call for better service delivery. Diepsloot residents complained that the area was serviced by the Erasmia police station in Pretoria, 45km away.
They said the metro police department and fire station, which had only been built in 2007, were not sufficiently equipped to deal with safety and crime issues. In 2009, Diepsloot was hit by widespread service delivery protests, labour strikes, and xenophobia.
In response, the department of public works said it would embark on an "era of renewal" in which the biggest police station, in terms of rand value, would be built in Diepsloot West.
At the time, then National Deputy Public Works Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said an emerging contractor would undertake the construction. However, soon after ground was broken in 2010, building came to a halt over a legal battle with the construction company.
"The new police station will bring permanent policing services to… Diepsloot, and will ensure that an effective frontline service is rendered to all members of the community in need of police services," the South African Police Service said in a statement on Friday.
Court battle to blame for delays
The project, which was estimated to cost R59 million in 2007, was only half completed by October 2013. By the time it opened Friday, the cost had escalated to R105 million. In December last year, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi blamed the delay on the court battle.
Diepsloot is a largely informal area. According to the 2011 census it had a population of just under 240 000 people and a large immigrant community.
Service delivery to the area is poor. It is common to find sewage in the streets, blocked public toilets, and untarred roads.
The new police station, however, hopes to address some of the social issues the township faces. Examination rooms and victim support facilities, together with a well-outfitted crime reporting area and detective wing promises to support residents' needs.
More crimes solved
With a consignment of new patrol cars and staff, residents expect that more rapes, robberies and murders will be solved.
In Diepsloot Extension 11, where GroundUp visited after the opening ceremony, people complained of dark alleys where opportunists attack women and children.
The victims are either girls walking to school or women going to work. It's easy for the perpetrators to make a getaway in the maze of alleys between the shacks.
There are numerous unlicensed taverns in an environment with high alcohol dependency.
Various drugs can easily be bought in Diepsloot Extension 13.
Nevertheless, there are feeding schemes, crèches, and orphanages throughout the 12 square kilometre area, as well as vegetable patches and curbside salons.