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Dark Buildings: Milton Court


Condom packets, used rubbers, rotting puddles of rubbish, thigh bones of cattle and a mother breastfeeding her child next to the pink bucket used to wash her sheets and blankets. This was the opening scene on the rooftop of Milton Court, a derelict building housing some of Joburg’s most desperate residents.

Milton Court entrance by S:P:S
Milton Court entrance, a photo by S:P:S on Flickr.

The three-storey building on Pritchard Street, sitting next to the infamous Virgin Café is in the process of a clean-up. A Joburg NGO approached the building recently to assist them in cleaning the rubbish out of the building which in some areas reached the second floor.

Some of the residents impressed, some not. I had to dodge dropping droplets of piss after a resident let loose over the fire escape on the third floor to get out to the alley. A pool of urine slowly cascaded down the rotting metal where some of the structure had already rusted away.

The stench, even on the roof, was unbearable. Defecation was drying in the sun in the far south-east corner where residents wanted to put the toilets.

Milton Mip Hop by S:P:S
Milton Mip Hop, a photo by S:P:S on Flickr.

I was at Milton Court as an exploration into buildings of the inner city that are currently in some state of flux, either legally or otherwise. Residents were having a mass meeting, about 20 of them arrived on the roof; at first they couldn’t decide what language to speak. Many of them are Tanzanian creating a need, on some occasions for translation. Drug lords, pimps, and the struggling poor stood together to decide just how they were going to tackle this problem of the buildings sanitation.

Furthermore, this is a hijacked building. The actual owner is receiving no rent and so no services are paid to the municipality. It is a dark building with no running water.

There isn’t enough space in this blog post to get into the whole experience but it may just be worth a deeper exploration of this building. I will keep you posted.

Milton Court sellers by S:P:S
Milton Court sellers, a photo by S:P:S on Flickr.

#innercityjoburg #miltoncourt

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 04/08/2012 01:40

    this is a great piece and would love to learn more about this building. I am interested in why these people still remain in such conditions

  2. Anonymous permalink
    05/04/2013 11:31

    If you thought it was bad then you have no idea how bad it is now. Do go there again and see if you will get out alive, the stench alone will kill you. on a bad day the stench covers a couple of blocks around the building and one cant breath. And just yesterday the cops pulled out a dead body from that building.
    its discusting from the not so very clean prostitutes, the drug dealers, the dirty kids and the people constantly taking a crap on the roof SIES!!!!

    • 05/04/2013 12:42

      I know…was there a couple weeks back. The guys who were holding out for it to be cleaned up and in dialogue with the owner have essentially given up. Doesn’t look like that building will ever come right…
      A pity.

      • andre permalink
        25/01/2014 15:15

        Eat ur words go look at it now

  3. alexa permalink
    01/03/2014 09:25

    Thanks Andre for that. Yes Scott should go back to what was once a distressed property. Once the renovations are done, he wouldn’t recognize what it was.

    • 01/03/2014 11:42

      Thanks guys – yes, I have been watching the progress. Happy it has turned around due to the commitment of the owner.

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