Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, has promised to deploy a special police team to Diepsloot within 24 hours. This after two days of violent protests in the Johannesburg township, with residents demanding that government and law enforcement agencies help stop crimes that they say are committed by undocumented foreign nationals.
The protests were sparked by the killing of police officer, Captain Aupa Matjie, last week by foreign nationals.
On Friday both Cele and Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, spoke in one voice as they sought to appease Diepsloot residents and bring about calm.
Protesters were initially demanding that Cele ensures that soldiers and Tactical Response Team - popularly known as Amabherethe – are deployed to rid the township of the crime and illegal foreigners, as well as shutting down illegal businesses in the area.
In his address to protesters, Cele explained that it would not be easy and quick to deploy the army to Diepsloot. He said that requires that he agrees with the Minister of Defence on that plan, then wait for the Defence Minister to write to the President of the country, who is the only one who authorises such a deployment.
But Cele assured residents that Amabherethe will be deployed within a day, as part of a bigger law enforcement special team.
“The detectives will be joined by Criminal Intelligence (CI). Others who will join are immigration officers, to check on the ground if people are legally or illegally in the country. I said the visible police officers will also be joined by Amabherethe in the next 24 hours,” Cele said to a cheering crowd.
Motsoaledi said most undocumented foreign nationals are involved in criminal activities because they know that they won’t be easily identified.
“Most people who are not documented… it’s because they don’t want to be documented and they came here to commit a crime not as migrants. Migrants fight to get documents,” Motsoaledi said.
He also said Diepsloot people are not as xenophobic as they are perceived because when xenophobic attacks flared up in other parts of the province, foreign nationals were welcomed to Diepsloot.
“When the so-called xenophobic attacks happened in other areas, people ran to Diepsloot, and you never attacked them. That is a clear sign that you are not xenophobic,” the Home Affairs minister said.
Motsoaledi confirmed that the four suspects who allegedly killed Captain Matjie last week are all foreign nationals.
Diepsloot remains one of the most dangerous townships in Johannesburg with crimes such as murder, rape, drugs common in the area.