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Diepsloot is in the north of Johannesburg, South Africa. It is located in the newly formed Region A (formerly regions 1 and 2), and is a sprawling, densely populated settlement made up of formal and informal settlements. The formal townships of Diepsloot West Extensions 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 comprise about 7139 households. However, it is in the informal settlements dotted around Extension 3, 5, 6 and the Reception Area in Extension 8 where the largest number of people live: about 15 900 families.

An informal township in Diepsloot, Gauteng, Johannesburg

Diepsloot West township is not far from the wealthy suburbs of Dainfern and Chartwell, and was established in 1995 as a transit camp for people who had been removed from Zevenfontein. Here 1 124 plots were made available. People were to stay in the transit camp until land became available. For many this camp became a permanent home. The Transvaal Provincial Administration, which was then the local authority, developed the plots into formal housing stands. In 1999, the former Northern Municipality Local Council began to initiate development. There were about 4 000 families living in backyard shacks and 6 035 families in the reception area, a transit zone established by the city council, says Alan Kitchin, the special projects assistant director in the City of Johannesburg's housing department.

To compound the congestion, in 2001 the Gauteng government moved about 5,000 families to Diepsloot from the banks of the Jukskei River in Alexandra. The move, part of the Alexandra Renewal Project, was intended "to decongest and address the need to create a healthy and clean living environment" in Alexandra, one of South Africa's oldest townships. The aim was also to prevent shacks being washed away when the river flooded - something that happened year after year. The influx of people from Alexandra placed further strain on the already stretched resources in Diepsloot. The relocated families did not qualify for housing benefits.

4,900 RDP houses have been constructed in Diepsloot; another 737 housing stands with water and sanitation facilities have been allocated. The national housing policy has moved away from the mass provision of standard RDP houses: it now follows the People's Housing Process model, a project being implemented in Diepsloot West. RDP houses are still being constructed, but the new process has the state provide a subsidy that covers the cost of building a house. The prospective homeowner is expected to pay a portion of the costs.

Diepsloot is now home to about 150,000 people; many of them live in 3m-by-2m shacks assembled from scrap metal, wood, plastic and cardboard. Some families lack access to basic services such as running water, sewage and rubbish removal. Residents use paraffin stoves and coal for cooking, and candles for light. City officials estimate that half the population in the settlement is unemployed.


Diepsloot featured on the BBC program Law and Disorder, presented by Louis Theroux, on 7 December 2008.

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Coordinates: 25°56′05″S 28°00′45″E / 25.934722°S 28.0125°E / -25.934722; 28.0125

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