Taxi passengers look on as former offender Bennett Ranthoka patrols Joe Slovo Drive, a once-notorious crime spot in Johannesburg [Tshego Mmahlatji/Al Jazeera]

Johannesburg, South Africa – Joe Slovo Drive is a gateway to Johannesburg’s inner city. It leads to an intersection into town or up to a freeway onto multiple nodes of the metropolis. For years it was plagued by crime. 

People were urged to beware of criminals who would “smash and grab” valuables from car seats, hold drivers at gunpoint to hijack their vehicles or steal from pedestrians.

Some avoided the road completely, creating a warren of alternative routes into the city.

At the intersection today, safety wardens stand at the traffic lights – two men dressed in shirts and ties, each

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