As South Africas largest city goes through rapid reinvention, streets once ruled by gangs are increasingly lined with cafes. But to those struggling for a living, the future still appears bleak. Does Johannesburgs new mayor have an answer?
Very early in the morning, Diana Phololo and a dozen elderly women from 54 Soper Road step out on to the dark streets of central Johannesburg. If they are quick, they will beat the municipal cleaners to the detritus left overnight by revellers in the newly hip neighbourhoods of South Africas sprawling commercial capital.
There is little solidarity among the 100 residents of the burned-out building where Phololo, 58, has lived unlawfully for nearly 20 years. Each races to the shattered bottles left on the pavements outside the bars and restaurants. Sold by the kilo for recycling, the glass provides the residents with enough money to eat.
Its not easy at my age, but its all Ive got, Phololo says.
By dawn, the residents of 54 Soper Road are back home. They rest in overcrowded, windowless rooms or on the verandah, enjoying the few rays of sun that pierce the wall of tower blocks surrounding their small, derelict building. There is no gas, electricity or sanitation. Water comes from a single standpipe. Children play in the rubbish-strewn yard.
Nothing really has changed here for years, says Mandla Kayise, 50, who moved into the squat a decade ago when he arrived jobless in Johannesburg from his poor village in KwaZulu-Natal, 350 miles south.
But soon he, Phololo and the others will be gone. An eviction is scheduled later this year. Despite the length of time many have been living there, no law in South Africa guarantees occupiers security after a set period.