In a commendable effort to ensure the safety of their community members, a group of dedicated individuals known as Phakama Mhlali has taken it upon themselves to patrol the streets of Diepkloof Zone 5.
From the early hours of 4 a.m. until the evening, these committed patrollers go above and beyond to protect the lives of their neighbors.
“We, as concerned residents of Diepkloof Zone 5, took the initiative to establish a patrolling team in early 2022 due to the incessant lawlessness that plagued our society,” explained Tshepo Ntsoelengoe, the Chairperson of Phakama Mhlali Patrollers in Soweto Diepkloof.
“Although none of us had prior patrolling expertise, our passion for protecting our loved ones and neighbors drove us to commit to this cause.”
One of the primary issues these dedicated individuals tackle is drug-related problems within their community.
While they are not proponents of mob justice, the patrollers work diligently to collaborate with the local police. Unfortunately, their efforts have yielded limited success, as they often witness the perpetrators back on the streets without facing any legal consequences.
“Our role is to hand over the offenders to the police, but it is disheartening to see them roaming freely without even appearing in court,” lamented Ntsoelengoe.
“Crime has become a major problem within our community, with incidents ranging from theft of learners’ lunchboxes and pocket money to more serious offenses. As a result, we have mobilized ourselves to accompany workers to their transportation from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. Additionally, we assist school children in crossing the streets safely and ensure no student enters the school premises with weapons or illegal items,” he continued.
To distinguish themselves from potential criminals, the patrollers wear distinctive uniforms, as Ntsoelengoe explained: “We opted for our own uniform with the Phakama Mhlali slogan, as many perpetrators easily obtain the common green reflector jackets. This way, we can be easily identified as members of the Phakama Mhlali Patrollers in Soweto Diepkloof.”
The remarkable dedication of these patrollers has not gone unnoticed within the community. They have managed to instill a sense of security and hope among the residents of Diepkloof Zone 5.
Local community member Sarah Molefe expressed her gratitude, saying, “Knowing that there are people who selflessly devote their time to protect us and our children brings great comfort. We truly appreciate the efforts of the Phakama Mhlali Patrollers.”
The impact of the Phakama Mhlali Patrollers goes beyond mere protection; they have become a symbol of unity and resilience within Soweto.
With their unwavering commitment to safety, they serve as an inspiration for communities facing similar challenges worldwide.