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Diepkloof: The place with a past

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One of the most upmarket areas of Soweto, Diepkloof with its iconic cooling towers, offers popular restaurants and taverns, plus a playground for both residents and tourists

Diepkloof, also sometimes referred to as Diepmeadow if combined with nearby Meadowlands, was established in 1959 to accommodate people being removed from Alexandra, near Sandton.

Diepkloof Extension is one of the more upmarket suburbs within this cluster and has a stable population, with most owning their homes for more than 10 years.

Soweto (South Western Townships) itself was established in the 1930s to accommodate people removed according to the Urban Areas Act of 1923. Authorities wanted to separate races and the area to the west of the city was chosen to resettle those forcibly removed.

With a population of 1.3 million, it is estimated that today one third of Johannesburg’s population lives in Soweto.

One of the most iconic sights in the Diepkloof area are the brightly painted, mural-clad twin cooling towers, which date back to 1955. Construction of the 33-storey Orlando Power Station towers began in 1935, but was completed only in 1955, due to delays caused by World War II. After 56 years of service, the power station was decommissioned in 1998 and transformed into an entertainment and business centre in 2008.

It is also the site of the world’s first bungee jump between two cooling towers, and operators run a number of other thrilling adventure sports, such as abseiling and SCAD (suspended catch air device) falling.

Asmitha Abdul, estate agent for Keller Williams, Johannesburg South, says the area is one of the most upmarket in the Soweto area.

“All homes are freehold and range in size from 450m² and 700m², fetching prices between R780 000 and R1.5 million; often a stepping stone for buyers who then move to suburbs like Alberton.”

She says the area is easily accessed from the freeway and close to malls like Southgate.

Resident and actor/producer Sam Mhangwani says the neighbourhood is friendly and he wouldn’t move for anything. He counts Irvin Khoza, the soccer administrator, among his neighbours and says he wouldn’t dream of leaving the area.  “We are near the tourism centre and New Year’s Eve is wonderful – you can watch the fireworks from your home.”

He says his many grandchildren love to visit and the area is convenient – even for him travelling to his Auckland Park offices – and has great retail offerings like Maponya Mall. Food food is cheaper than in the city suburbs and the taverns are chilled.


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