There are now more than 150 000 people living there. 150 000 people confronted with sickness, cold, violence, hunger, unemployment: surviving.
Diepsloot, 30km North of Johannesburg, a mass of shacks, dirt, people. Consisting of both formal and informal housing, it started in the mid 1990's as a transitional resettlement area. While the relocation to the site was at first planned, it later became increasingly a dumping ground for many housing problems in the region. Most of these people were forcefully removed without due process and barely any warning. The recent waves of immigrants, many of them illegal, have added further complexity to the already difficult situation.
Inside Diepsloot, people are generous, most are poor, some are cruel, others kind, some use drugs, others alcohol and still many don’t touch either. Some go to church, others don't believe in God, many don't care much either way.
Some people commit crimes, all are victims. Ordinary folk don't go outdoors after nightfall and if they must, they hurry, worried they will fall prey to the lurking shadows. Some areas are too dangerous to venture into, even during the day.
Sickness is rife and death is common, but that doesn't make it easier to deal with.
Streets run with the overflow from blocked toilet pipes and dirty wash water.
Ethnic tension like a current running beneath the skin is always present, ready.
Work is hard to find.
Money is scarce; food, paraffin, clothes are all expensive.
Diepsloot means "deep ditch" in Afrikaans, a ditch from which it is difficult to egress.
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