Movie Review: Deadpool resurrects superhero movies

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Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Ed Skrein, Morena Baccarin

Directed by: Tim Miller

Vuvu Rating: 9/10

The film is based on the Marvel Comic anti-hero mercenary Wade Wilson, played by Ryan Reynolds, who contracts cancer. Wilson is disfigured after being subjected to a tortuous experiment by villainous scientist Ajax, played by Ed Skrein, forming the scarred and indestructible Deadpool with his twisted sense of humour. Deadpool embarks on a quest to have the side effects of the experiments reversed in order to return to his fiancé (and stripper) Vanessa played by Morena Baccarin. What follows is a lot of gory action, flying bullets and a dark sense of humour never seen before in a comic superhero.

This is the ideal superhero comeback for Reynolds after his lukewarm portrayal of the Green Lantern in 2011 and seems to be a role written to all of the actor’s strengths. His portrayal of the rebellious character somewhat hints at Jim Carrey’s style of humour and physicality. The wise cracks are non-stop from the credits, where the filmmakers and crew call themselves “tools” and “asshats”, to the post credit scenes that poke fun at the audience for staying to watch them. This quirkier version of the tradition comic book films builds on the type of humour we are beginning to see in films like Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy and takes it just a step further by finally bringing us the depraved super-hero we have all been dying to see.

Directed by Tim Miller the film takes notes from Quentin Tarantino’s infamous style of depicting violence with blood splatter flying across the screen and unexpected gore. The film also tends to say all the things you were thinking but were too afraid to say out loud. It manages to poke fun of its self and previous Marvel films whilst still keeping the audience immersed in the world of superheroes and mad scientists. What makes the film even more enjoyable is the throwback soundtrack that features classics from the likes of DMX, Wham and Salt-N-Peppa.

The only drawback of the film is that it is carried mainly by the lead character with minimal impact coming from the supporting cast. Like a rebellious cool kid the film is trying very hard to get the audience to like it and after making a record breaking $132.7 million on its opening weekend it seems that’s exactly what’s happened.

 

 

Movie Review: The Hateful Eight

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Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Vuvu Rating: 7/10

 

The Hateful Eight is director Quentin Tarantino’s eighth feature film and continues in the same vein as his previous Western Django Unchained.

The film is set in a wintery Wyoming after the Civil War, when a stagecoach heading for Red Rock gets caught in a blizzard. Aboard the stagecoach is bounty hunter John “the Hangman” Ruth, played by Kurt Russell, and his prisoner Daisy Domergue, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is bound for the hangman. Along their journey to the shelter of Minnie’s Haberdashery they pick up Major Marquis Warren, a former Union cavalry officer, who is played by Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Mannix, played by Walton Goggins, who claims to be the new sheriff of Red Rock.

This ignites the tension between the intriguing characters that the film is built on. Once they arrive at their pit stop and sanctuary from the storm they come across four other strangers that will be snowed in along with their paranoia, guns and secrets in a small cabin. But not everyone is who they seem to be.

The deceptive opening scene shows the picturesque snowy landscapes of the mountainous West before entering a single room packed with eccentric and suspicious characters, where it remains for the duration of the film. This setting is more reminiscent of a stage play rather than a film helping to heighten the sense of confinement among the characters.

The plot is a culmination of an Agatha Christie mystery novel and a rugged Western generated by a barrage of bullets and cascade of blood which is what we come to expect from any Tarantino film. The narrative of the Hateful Eight isn’t as rounded as his previous films, the storyline is weaker and doesn’t have a lot of death. They’re stuck in a room, they fight, they kill each other. But is nevertheless filled with twists and revelations that make for an interesting watch.

Dialogue is the main driving force behind this slow paced film that is best described by the films own words, “molasses like”.  However the dialogue is excellent and allows the actors to each have their own moments of brilliance. This wordy film is however punctuated with not only over the top violence but also humour. The clever one liners will remain with you long after the lights come on and the popcorn is finished.

The characters of the film aren’t self-restrained or politically correct which is common in the way Tarantino’s reimagined historical and political issues that are particularly seen in Django Unchained and Inglorious Bastards. However each character is intriguing with excellent performances from Oscar nominated, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jackson.

The Hateful Eight is an enjoyable film that any Tarantino fan would relish, but if you’re not a fan of lengthy rambling films broken by excessive violence then this will be a hateful experience.

Facebook removes “White People” picture

Facebook removed an image depicting a person wearing a t-shirt with the words “F*ck White People” from the Wits Vuvuzela Facebook account after a similar picture created a stir on social media.

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Photo: User:Rfsjim (Image:CENSORED.JPG) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A Facebook image depicting a t-shirt reading “F*ck White People” on Wits Vuvuzela‘s Facebook account has been removed by the social media application today.

“We removed the post below because it doesn’t follow the Facebook Community Standards,” according to a Facebook notification. The account was also made briefly unavailable to Wits Vuvuzela staff members.

The post was in the form of a gallery of images that depicted students wearing t-shirts reading “F*ck White people” and “F*ck De Klerk” at a demonstration, in solidarity with a fellow student, that was held at the Great Hall Piazza yesterday.

A screen-grab of the message displayed by Facebook regarding the removal of the image from the Wits Vuvuzela Facebook account.

Photo: A screen-grab of the message displayed by Facebook regarding the removal of the image from the Wits Vuvuzela Facebook account.

The protest came after third-year Mathematical Sciences, Zama Mthunzi, was reported to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for hate speech after images of him wearing a t-shirt reading “F*ck White People” caused a stir on social media. The t-shirt was created during an artistic protest because of, amongst others, the financial exclusion of poor students and the presence of security personnel on campus.

Under the Facebook Community Standards section on hate speech, the social media application states that it removes content that directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity or serious disabilities or diseases. The organisation does however state that it allows the facilitation of discussion and debate.

“People can use Facebook to challenge ideas, institutions, and practices … Sometimes people share content containing someone else’s hate speech for the purpose of raising awareness or educating others about that hate speech. When this is the case, we expect people to clearly indicate their purpose,” according to Facebook’s policy.

The image that was removed was among other images in the gallery depicting students protesting with t-shirts sprayed with “F*ck Wits”, “F*ck White Tears” and “Being Black is Sh*t.”

Movie Review: DiCaprio back with a vengeance

Image source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cRD88sDnGs

Image source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cRD88sDnGs

Starring:Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson

Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Vuvu Rating: 9/10

 

The Revenantis set in 1823 and based on the embellished true story of the legendary trapper Hugh Glass, played by Oscar-nominated Leonardo DiCaprio, who embarks on a military-backed fur-trapping expedition led by Andrew Henry, played by Domhnall Gleeson across the American Midwest. After coming under attack by Arikara Native Americans the remaining hunters, led by Glass, set a new course to reach the safety of their base camp. Along the journey Glass faces many unimaginable struggles brought on by the harsh environment in which the 19th century frontiersmen found themselves, including enduring a savage attack from a bear.  After being left for dead by trapper John Fitzgerald, played by Tom Hardy, and naive Jim Bridger, portrayed by Will Poulter, Glass is driven by family and revenge on a torturous journey through the icy, mountainous terrain of the Midwest in search of retribution.

The actor’s performances on a whole are understated and realistic owing to the cast and crew enduring the harsh conditions and rigours filming in Canada, Montana and Argentina. There is some satisfaction in knowing that when the characters look like they are freezing, the actors themselves are actually freezing out in the snow instead of pretending to shiver in front of a green screen. In one instance the warm breadth of the actor speaking actually fogs up the camera bringing the audience into the icy setting with the actors.

With all the Oscar buzz surrounding DiCaprio for the film it’s no surprise that he delivers a excellent and raw performance of a man so driven by vengeance that he plows on through all that nature can throw at him including a vicious bear attack, bone-chilly temperatures, being pursued by Native Americans and all the rest that comes with living out in the wilderness of the frontier. This comes despite having dialogue that consists of mainly groans of pain and raspy words spoken through a torn and bloody throat. His impressive performance makes one wonder if DiCaprio has come back with his own vengeance to win an Oscar for his portrayal of Glass.

Where DiCaprio’s performance elevates the film, Hardy’s portrayal of the villainous Fitzgerald doesn’t quite live up to the same high standard. His dialogue is often mumbled beneath his shabby beard and accent that bring back memories of his portrayal of Bane in the Dark Knight Rises. The character however just doesn’t seem to have enough motivation for his villainous actions and rather speaks more of a callous, egocentric hunter concerned with his own survival.

The narrative of the film is simplistic and lacks a philosophical or deeper meaning with their being not much more to the character of Glass than his will to survive driven by revenge. This is despite his pain-induced hallucinations and dreams of his family.

But what the Revenant lacks in narrative it defiantly makes up for in the form of visceral landscapes and innovative cinematography.  The filming transports the audience to the wintery mountains amid vicious battle with arrows flying through the air and horses racing in the snow. The imagery of the wintery landscapes is helped by only shooting the film in natural light and gives a realistic and desolate palette to the brutal elements.

The long tracking shots in the film mirror the technique used by director Alejandro González Iñárritu in his previous film Birdman. These long unbroken shots help to heighten the pace of the action scenes particularly the bear attack and the opening scene where the audience glides through the chaos following men killing, dying, running, mounting horses and continues through the attack in a seamless single shot. These scenes have been impressively choreographed and speak not only to the skill of the film makers but also the actors. The realistic graphics in the bear attack scene are also spectacular and leave the audience feeling stunned.

The film as a whole has a silent eloquence interjected with electrifying visuals that brings the audience into the narrative. This survival/revenge story sees a man face up against death and all that nature has to offer, pull himself across mountains, snow and through a river for his family. The powerful acting along with the raw cinematic brilliance makes a film not to be missed and a tough contender for the coveted gold statue.

Watch the official trailer here

Celeb endorses #Access to education

Tanisha Heiberg

The #Access campaign launced by the Wits SRC has raised over R2.6-million and attracted the attention of celebrities like DJ Sbu. 

NedBank Gloria Phasha, Vice-Cahncellor Adam Habib, Karabo Maruthaand Nompendulo Mkatshwa

Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib, Wits SRC president Nompendulo Mkatshwa and SRC members Karabo Marutha and Gloria Phasha were presented with a R2-million donation towards students fees from representatives from NedBank. The donation from the bank, forms part of the #Access campaign launched by the Wits SRC on Welcome Day that aims to raise money for students who cannot afford tertiary education.

The Wits SRC’s #Access campaign for students who cannot pay fees has raised over R2.6-million and attracted endorsements from local celebrities such as DJ Sbu.

“DJ Sbu has agreed to endorse the Access campaign … Sbu along with the SRC will be participating in his fund raising event on Sunday,” according to Wits SRC secretary general Fasiha Hassan. The details of the endorsement are still under discussion.

Hassan said that some of the proceeds from DJ Sbu’s Annual SLEF Benefit Concert will go towards the #Access campaign with the details still to be ironed out.

This comes after the Wits SRC launched the #Access fundraiser at the university’s welcome day for first-year students. The campaign aims to raise R10-million by the end February for the “missing middle”—students who don’t qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) but still cannot afford tuition.

“They are students who are too poor to be rich and too rich to be poor”

Hassan said the SRC is hoping to raise enough money to help at least 8 000 students with not only tuition but also necessities such as accommodation and transport.

“It’s one thing to get them into the system but it’s another to get them out successfully … we are aiming to look at this holistically,” said Hassan.

“They are students who are too poor to be rich and too rich to be poor … these are children of teachers, nurses and policemen,” said SRC president Nompendulo Mkatshwa at the welcome day.

The fundraiser includes Fill the Jar, pledges forms, donations and the proceeds gained from O-week events, such as Beer Garden, Freshers Party and the Flea Market, will go towards the humanitarian fund.  “People think that O-week is about ‘party party party’, let me tell you something O-week is not about that. It’s about raising funds for students. Party with a purpose,” said Mkatshwa

Another key focus to the initiative is the corporate challenge where they hope to encourage big business to donate. At the launch R2-million was donated by Nedbank to start kick start the initiative. Mkatshwa implored not only students and parents to donate but also corporate and other professionals. “We challenge other corporate to bless us, be our ‘blessers’,” said Mkatshwa. Other corporate donation include R600 000 from Abbotts Laboratories.

“No amount of funding is enough”

Last year the Wits SRC raised R4.4-million for the One million One Month campaign to assist students who were affected by the NSFAS shortfall crisis.

In an interview on Wednesday with Wits Vuvuzela, Mkatshwa said the SRC wanted to expand access to education towards every academically qualified student.

“The Wits SRC seeks to ensure that every single academically deserving child gains access to this institution and succeeds in this institution …We need the masses of our people skilled and knowledgeable in order for us to create the type of growth that will create socioeconomic equality and justice in South Africa,” said  Mkatshwa.

However, Hassan acknowledged that even if the SRC meets its goal of R10-million, it will still not be enough to help all of the students in need of funding for their tertiary education.

“No amount of funding is enough,” said Hassan.

This initiative comes in the wake of the Fees Must Fall protests that spread to other campuses across the country at the end of last year when students demanded a 0% fee increase and an end to outsourcing.

“#Access is an evolution of Fees Must Fall,” said Hassan.

The last barber of Fordsburg

There are many hair salons in Fordsburg that are all competing for customers, but with the increase in foreign-owned businesses and the changes seen in Fordsburg all the old barbershops have closed, except for one.

Every day Chhagan Cgopal takes the familiar 30-minute journey from his bus stop at the heart of Johannesburg’s city centre to his barbershop in Fordsburg, a trip he has taken for over 40 years. He unlocks the security gate and swaps his beige raincoat and faded black fez hat for his still pristine, white cutting coat on the hook in the corner of his tiny shop. Then, like every other day, he reads the daily paper on the unsteady plastic chairs at the door, waiting for customers. On most days no customers will come, no one will visit except for the local car guards who ask to use his taps.

Cgopal, who is now in his late 70s, is the last traditional men’s barbershop left in a Fordsburg that was once bustling with people going to the Majestic bioscope or children playing marbles in the dirt road. But now, time and competition from newer foreign hair salons have closed the doors on others like him.

WAITING FOR CUSTOMERS: Chhagan Cgopal spends most of his time paging through the local newspapers that he piles up on the chair next to him, while waiting for customers to come to his now quiet barbershop in Fordsburg. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

The old Fordsburg hangout

Fordsburg has undergone many changes from the time when it was home to notorious gangsters, and classic, slicked-back hair was the style. Many of its old residents have moved away and hopeful foreigners have moved in to establish themselves in an area whose locals share a similar culture.

The over 40-year-old Majestic barbershop, named after the old bioscope, is now lost between worn brick buildings. The faint sound of the radio playing in the background and the squeaking of the corner fan break the silence in the cluttered shop.

Despite it being discarded, the Majestic barbershop has become an icon in the area that many people have never forgotten through stories from their fathers and grandfathers.

Zunaid Varachia, a long-time South African resident and business owner, recalled the streets in front of the hairdressers in town being lined with children and their anxious mothers a few days before Eid celebrations. “People used to go [to the barber] at three o’clock in the afternoon and wait in the queue and sometimes finish at 6 o’clock,” said Varachia.

MAJESTIC MEMENTOS: The small yellowing cupboards in his shop hold not only his scissors and straight blades, but also act as display cases for old photographs and newspaper clippings. Cgopal speaks fondly of pictures showing the gangsters whose hair he used to cut or the other barbers who worked in the shop with him. ‘More than 20 years they worked for me, now they all late,’ said Cgopal. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

Varachia explained how the barbershops were always a part of the community atmosphere in Fordsburg. “The barbershop was the hangout spot … In my time you would always see people you know at the hairdresser waiting for a haircut,” said Varachia.

These barbershop hangout spots were home to many of the local men who came not only for a cut and shave but also to catch up on the news in the area. The Majestic barbershop even cut the hair of some of Fordsburg’s notorious gangsters who would charge people in the area a fee for their protection.

“All these gangsters they know us very well … they don’t trouble us … they were good gangsters, you had to pay protection fee like American style,” said Cgopal. But now in an area rife with crime, security gates and burglar bars are all that protect the old barbershop.

With a burst of laugher, the barber speaks fondly of the time when he himself still had hair.

“You know, Elvis style,” said a balding Cgopal, gesturing to the height of his once-full hair. Even in the 1990s, Fordsburg’s hair salons were crammed with young men eager to maintain their image and get the very popular bleached highlights.

“Those hairdressers used to stay open till eight o’clock at night … that time, eight o’clock was late,” said Varachia. Now in Fordsburg you might even be able to find a hair salon open at 11 o’clock at night just to make the most out of the last few hours of the day.

‘Retiring his cutting scissors’

GREEN BACKS: The Majestic Barber in Fordsburg is home to many photographs and antiques such as the worn leather green cutting chairs. The tiny shop once held five barbers chairs, but now only two remain after they were sold to antique collectors. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

For Cgopal, who needs to close his shop with enough time for him to walk into town and catch the last bus home, this is just another way his old barbershop no longer makes the cut.

“I can’t compete with those guys there, I close five o’clock, they close late evening,” said Cgopal. Despite the impact that the barbershops had on the sense of community in the area, they are still dwindling and taking a piece of the era’s history with them.

Like many businesses that have witnessed the evolution of Fordsburg, the Majestic Barber is a family business that goes back three generations. It had its first beginnings in the Oriental Plaza which was built to relocate the shops that were demolished after the apartheid government tore down the market in the nearby suburb of Fietas. The shabby, black waiting bench and the yellowing, old photographs of Elvis hairstyles and newspaper clippings stand the risk of being lost as the next generation loses interest in the relics of the past.

“I tried to teach [my children] but they want to do something else, you know computers, accounting, things like that,” explained Cgopal.

This last gentlemen’s barbershop with its empty green leather chairs stands in stark contrast to the many modern Indian, Pakistani and Somali hair salons that continue to spring up in the area.

This hasn’t been an isolated case, with old restaurants, cafes and theatres running dry without customers and the influx of new foreign business. “It was full, you could never get any bookings at any restaurant and now it is just completely dead,” said Varachia.

Hair salon turf wars

“There is too much competition … old clients come around and support me, that’s why I’m surviving; new guys came here and spoil my business,” said Cgopal. With only a few older customers left who still support him, after many have died or moved away, it has become a struggle to pay for rising rental costs. This has left Cgopal thinking about retiring his cutting scissors and straight blade.

BUSTLE: Mint Street in Fordsburg in lined with hair salons and clothing stores mostly owned by foreign immigrants, as well as informal traders. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg.

With salons on almost every street, their territories have begun to overlap and competition is no longer just having an impact on the old shops but it is also causing the newer salons to make changes to differentiate themselves and survive.

“In Fordsburg there is too much competition,” said Javd Khalifa, a hairdresser with a modern salon who has experienced rivalry with the stores located on the same street as him.

Once the shop doors have been rolled up at the busy Five Star Hair Salon, the customers are greeted at a reception area before they are seated in any one of the four chrome and black leather chairs in front of the glass and granite cutting stations.

Shilpa Vala, a beautician and ladies’ hairdresser at the salon, said that there are three to four salons on every street. “It’s difficult, in 2009 it wasn’t the same as now, it was OK … now there’s more salons, maybe a hundred,” said Vala sitting on one of the large, leather waiting couches.

Five Star, like many other salons, had to adapt and find ways to “out-cut” their competitors by incorporating beauty treatments and henna tattooing into their stores.

Vala explained that in order to prevent her customers from going next door, she needs to charge different prices in the Fordsburg salon than she does 1in her other salon.

“In Norwood you can charge full price and they pay, but here you can’t, else they go next door.”

SMOOTH: Thishen Pillay receiving a close shave by the owner Mahesh Maisuriyu in the busy Five Star unisex hair salon on Mint Street. Five Star is one of the many foreign-owned hair salons in the area Photo: Tanisha Heiberg.

Samir Khelife, a salon owner in a particularly busy street, went as far as opening up his own salon across from the one where he used to be employed as a hairdresser.  He hit upon an innovation, which Cgopal never would have tried; dressing women’s hair for R70 more than he would charge a man. “For ladies I can get R120,” said Khelife.

The increased competition has not gone unnoticed by customers. “The only thing which is cheaper now than what it was 10 years ago is … a haircut,” said Varachia with a grin.

With the decrease in price more people are now able to go to the hairdresser more often. “I’ve got some friends who don’t shave themselves at all, every week they go to one of these shops and get a haircut and a shave,” said Varachia.

But even if the Majestic barbershop could implement strategies like lower prices, Cgopal still could not compete with its older customer base, because of the changing styles and the growth of a younger clientele who go to more modern salons that are known for shaving designs into the customer’s hair.

“All the foreigners they do stylish things, but I’m old school, so all the youngsters don’t support me anymore, they go to the foreigners,” said Cgopal.

A home away from home

However, there are often many employment problems faced by foreigners who are in search of a better life. Many South African employers favour local workers and immigration legislation is often burdensome for migrant workers.

This results in many migrants starting their own businesses. According to a study by the Migrating for Work Research Consortium (MiWORC), 21% of foreigners are classified as self-employed. The study used results from data collected by Statistics South Africa in 2012 to analyse the effect migrants have on business.

The study also found that foreign-born workers are more likely to work in the service and sales industry, such as hair salons and shops. “It’s better here than in India … because here you can find job or work easily,” explained one hairdresser who has been in South Africa for six years.

With so many foreigners starting businesses, many migrants chose Fordsburg for its cultural familiarity that reminds them of home.  “I feel like I’m in my country,” said Vala who has been in Fordsburg since 2009.

Many have described Fordsburg as being unique and having “a certain heartbeat” but despite this many of the original Fordsburg residents are moving away in search of other areas that have that same sense of community.

“Previously it was a very community based area … that has changed in recent years … Fordsburg is now very diverse,” explained Varachia while sipping a pressed juice from an Egyptian café and hookah lounge.

Many of the small businesses are owned by Pakistanis who come here to make money to send back home. He explained that they have little responsibilities and expenses compared to South African shop owners who are established with families and bigger expenses.

“They don’t need as much to make it … whatever little money they make is a profit,” said Varachia.

CLOSE SHAVE: Thishen Pillay receiving a shave and hair cut by the owner Mahesh Maisuriyu (from left) in the busy Five Star unisex hairsalon on Mint Street. Customers sit on the green leather couches waiting to have their hair cut by Maisuriyu who has been a hairdresser for 15 years. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg.

It’s not just the barbershops that have been affected by the influx of foreigners, many other shops are increasingly being owned by non-South Africans. “If you look at Mint Road, it used to be all restaurants, now it’s a huge group of Egyptians that sell Muslim dress cloths,” said Varachia, who grew up in the area.

Many of these stores however are very successful with foreign nationals now taking the place of South African consumers who have moved out of Fordsburg. In these communities the shop owners have come to know each other and generally sell their goods at a similar price to allow everyone the chance to survive.

“They don’t cut each other out … It’s quite common with the foreign communities, they try to support each other,” said Varachia. This also often benefits locals who travel to Fordsburg from other parts of Johannesburg because of their lower prices and wide selection of goods.

But for the Majestic barber this doesn’t bring any more customers but rather signals the end of an era. The once popular barber, whose face brightened when he told stories of the past from old photographs, has found himself alone and irrelevant in a modern and changed Fordsburg.

“Today it was slow,there was no one … one of these days I have to close,” said Cgopal as his usual smile faded as he returned to paging through his newspaper inside the empty shop.

FEATURED IMAGE: WAITING FOR CUSTOMERS: Chhagan Cgopal spends most of his time paging through the local newspapers that he piles up on the chair next to him, while waiting for customers to come to his now quiet barbershop in Fordsburg. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

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What’s haunting Joburg

 Ghostly figures, disembodied footsteps and screams lurk along the streets of Joburg. Here are 16 of Joburg’s most haunted tales and ghoulish secrets. You might want to read this with the lights on!

Serial killers, struggle heroes and tragic deaths haunt Johannesburg’s turbulent and varied history, with some of the ghostly figures remaining to this day. After gold was discovered in 1886 Joburg rose from the dust into the metropolises we know today. But do you know all the legends of how it came to be an eclectic and vibrant city? Terrifying tales whose spirits remain include the tragic tale of freedom fighter and schoolboy Hector Peterson, the ghosts of the infamous Stander Gang and lesser known haunted spots like a Parktown’s Mikes’s Kitchen and a headless women mourning in an ancient school.

  1. The rocky knoll- Soweto

A ghostly schoolboy with his hands clenched in the Black Power salute and the faint sound of bullets firing into the night, have been heard at the foot of the Rocky Knoll. The boy is thought to be the ghost of Hector Peterson who was killed by police bullets on June, 16th 1976.

The Hector Peterson memorial in Soweto. Photo: The original uploader was Albinfo at German Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Hector Peterson memorial in Soweto. Photo: The original uploader was Albinfo at German Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

  1. Daisy de Melker – Supreme Court

Serial killer Daisy de Melker’s spirit still lurks in her old cell at the women’s prison at Constitutional Hill and at the Supreme Court’s, Court 3 where she was sentenced to death in 1932. The Black Widow was the first serial killer to be convicted in South Africa after she poisoned two of her husbands and a son with arsenic and strychnine. De Melker is said to also appear at 6 o’clock at her home on Club Street in Turffontein where she peers out of the window waiting for her victims to return home.

  1. Foxwood House- 5th Street Houghton

The historic house built in 1924 is not only a popular boutique hotel in Houghton but is also home to some historic guests from the spirit world. As one of the first houses in the area it is filled with antique family heirlooms, some of which haven’t been moved since 1936! Guests to the hotel claim to hear mysterious footsteps and to have seen the ghost of a lady with a child and even Paul Kruger.

The Foxwood House built in 1924 in Houghton. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

The Foxwood House built in 1924 in Houghton. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

  1. Ponte Tower- Hillbrow

The Iconic 54-story cylindrical tower has become an eerie spot for a number of suicides. The once luxurious high-rise fell into disrepair and became a base for Joburg’s notorious gangs in the late 1980s before it was abandoned. Now the ghosts have joined its inhabitance with several of them being spotted in the building reliving their last moments.

Ponte Towers looking over Johannesburg's skyline. Photo: Geoffrey Hancock (Ponte City Uploaded by Yarl) via Wikimedia Commons

Ponte Towers looking over Johannesburg’s skyline. Photo: Geoffrey Hancock (Ponte City Uploaded by Yarl) via Wikimedia Commons

  1. The View Mansion- Parktown Ridge

In a white Victorian dress Lady Cullinan can still be seen lurking around the stately home with the sound of someone climbing the stairs, despite the staircase being removed many years ago. Sir Thomas and Lady Annie Cullinan bought the View Mansion for £1,250 in 1896, which is now a museum and a business venue. Many other stories are also hidden beneath creaky floor boards and secret passageways in Joburg’s historic homes.

  1. Stander Gang – Houghton

South Africa’s most wanted bank robbers went down fighting when the infamous Stander Gang consisting of Andre Charles Stander (37), Patrick Lee McCall (34) and Allan Heyl (32) were wanted by police in the1980s. The ghost of McCall is said to lurk at the place of his death that came after a tip-off led police to their Sixth Avenue, Houghton safe-house. McCall met his bloody end after refusing to surrender resulting in a gun battle in the streets of the leafy suburb. Police finally threw grenades into the house and stormed in only to find McCall lying naked and dead in the hall.

One of the Stander Gang hide-outs during the 1980s where a gunfire battle that resulted in the death of Patrick Lee McCall. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

One of the Stander Gang hide-outs during the 1980s where a gunfire battle that resulted in the death of Patrick Lee McCall. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

A clip from the 2003 Movie Stander starring Thomas Jane as Andre Stander and Dexter Fletcher as Lee McCall.

  1. The Aurora House- Central Avenue Houghton

Howling and disembodied footsteps from mysteriously murdered socialite Bubbles Schroeder can be heard walking around the Aurora building. The party girl’s body was found with her mouth stuffed with clay in August 1949, in what was a blue gum plantation near Wanderers Sports Club. The good time girl’s murderer was never found with many different theories surrounding the fateful night helping to further the Schroeder ghosts anguish.

  1. Mikes Kitchen- Parktown

The Goch family home, built in 1904, has seen more than one person meet their untimely end. A ghost of a grief stricken mother thought to be Jane Goch has been seen walking up and down the stairs soothing her child that died. The unfriendly appertshion of James Goch has also occasionally been seen, but he doesn’t take kindly to visitors. The Goch family are not the only souls lurking at the restaurant. The kitchen doors can be seen swinging open and closed as a murdered kitchen staff member walks in and out of the kitchen.

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The Mike’s Kitchen in Parktown is a national heritage site that was originally built by James Goch, a photographer in early Johannesburg. The house was designed by JB Nicholson and has survived by being a hotel in the 1930s. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

  1. Constitution Hill- Braamfontein

Many souls have passed through the iron gates since it was built in 1882 but some have never left. As a prison and military defense post it saw many political prisoners being incarcerated at the Fort including Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Walter Sisulu, and Ruth First. Among the many souls that haven’t found their rest is Daisy De Melker’s ghost who haunts the Women’s Jail. Another is a blonde Afrikaans nurse with maroon epaulets from the old Florence Nightingale Nursing Home who still roams the building at the corner of Constitution Hill.

Inside the prison at Constitutional Hill. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

Inside the prison at Constitutional Hill. Photo: Valerie Robinson

  1. Braamfontein cemetary – Graf Street Braamfontein

Created in1888 it offers a glimpse of Joburgs past including unsung heroes, resisters, concentration camp survivors and victims of the dynamite explosions. A 24 year old victim of suicide named Chow Kwai engraved a letter of apology on his tombstone apologizing for unknowingly registering under a new law aimed at restricting the movements of Indians and Chinese. After he realized what he had done he set himself alight in 1907.

  1. Kensington Sanatorium-Bezuidenhout Valley

Mother Adéle, a French nun, has been seen at the old Kensington Sanatorium. She is thought to be a passed inhabitant of the building originally built in 1897.

The old Kengsington Sanatorium that was once home to nuns is now a Life Clinic. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

The old Kengsington Sanatorium that was once home to nuns is now a Life Clinic. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

  1. Jeppe Boys High School- Jeppestown

A headless women known as the “Afkop Vrou” has been seen in the schools Payne Hall holding her head. The legend has it that the women committed suicide after the death of her husband during World War I.

  1. Museum Africa- Newton

A ghost known as Mr Chips was a worker at the potato sheds in Newton who was killed by a falling sack of potatoes. He now is said to haunt Museum Africa’s costume collection section and is heard ruffling the clothes and rearranging the shelves. The sheds which were originally built in 1912 were part of the original Indian market. The market relocated to a larger premise in City Deep in 1974.

  1. The Post Office Building- Rissik Street Johannesburg

The burnt remains are not the only things left from the old Post Office building, that was built in 1897 as the tallest building in town. A dark apparition has been seen in the underground tunnels that link the Post Office and Park Station. The building has been abandoned, except for its ghostly visitors, since 1996 with many of its fittings being stripped and stolen leaving behind only its skeleton.

The remains of the once towering Post Office on Rissik Street built in 1897 by President Paul Kruger's architect, Sytze Wierda. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

The remains of the once towering Post Office on Rissik Street built in 1897 by President Paul Kruger’s architect, Sytze Wierda. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

15. Zoo Lake- Randburg

The dismembered body of Mrs Catherine Burch haunts the watery grave were her decomposing head was found by two boys fishing at Zoo Lake in 1964. This was the last puzzle piece needed to help identify the remains already found in Boksburg Lake and Wemmer Pan. The alleged perpetrator was her husband Ronald Burch who electrocuted himself in front of police upon his discovery. The cause of death however still remains “unascertained” leaving an uneasy spirit lurking at the shore of the Lake.

The banks of Zoo Lake in Johannesburg were the head of Mrs Catherine Burch was discovered. Photo: The original uploader was Albinfo at German Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

The banks of Zoo Lake in Johannesburg were the head of Mrs Catherine Burch was discovered. Photo: The original uploader was Albinfo at German Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

16. Kempton Park Hospital- Kempton Park

If that’s not enough ghostly activity on the outskirts of Joburg are many other ghoulish destinations including the abandoned Kempton Park Hospital that closed its doors the day after Christmas in 1997, without any explanation. The mysterious circumstances around its sudden close have given to the rise of many stories about its ghostly activity. The setting including no electricity, empty rooms, confidential patient files on the floor and broken equipment and ceilings.

A group of ghost hunters posted footage of their experiences whilst walking around the abandoned hospital at night.