Wear a helmet for New Year’s Eve in Hillbrow

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IOL new year's eve hillbrow

INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Members of the SAPS, JMPD and EMS were out in large numbers to help resident of Hillbrow, Joburg on New Years Eve last year. Photo: Sizwe Ndingane

Fridges might fly and beds fall from the sky as residents in Joburg's Hillbrow district see in the New Year by throwing broken furniture on to the streets below.

Police will send in helicopters, armoured vehicles and special units on Saturday night to patrol the unruly area, which has earned a reputation as a trouble spot at the turn of the year.

Every year a dozen-odd people among those who dare to venture outside on December 31 are hit by crashing objects thrown out of high-rise apartment blocks – everything from televisions to kitchen appliances.

“We throw the old stuff because we got new stuff,” said computer repairman Dickens Patwell, a 24-year-old Zimbabwean, who had himself once tipped a bed over his balcony.

People toss “many things, like electrical stuff,” added his friend, fellow Zimbabwean James Thomas.

“Microwaves, broken stoves, televisions ...” the 26-year-old welder told AFP in a bustling Hillbrow street, as minibus taxis hooted loudly for passengers and vendors sold vegetables on the sidewalk.

“We don't throw things during the year, we can't afford to buy new things then,” he said.

But two years ago an 11-month-old baby girl was seriously injured after being struck on the head by a brick – one of nine people hospitalised during New Year celebrations in the district that year.

The following year, locals opted to hurl stones at police patrol vehicles rather than furniture from windows. But emergency services still treated 14 people, including one man who had been hit over the head with a bottle.

South African Beauty Dube, who has lived in Hillbrow for 16 years, said she would be staying indoors with her family to keep safe.

But Thomas said the objects were not supposed to hurt people: it was just an easy way to get rid of possessions that did not work any more.

“We know nobody's gonna be out. We're creating jobs for other people,” he said, echoing a popular belief that debris creates employment for street sweepers.

“Those who get hurt are drinkers” who stay outside too long, Dube added.

Officials are hesitant to blame the violence on foreigners for fear of inciting South Africans against immigrants.

Police believe the main culprits are people who have forcibly taken over buildings, said provincial spokesman Tshisikhawe Ndou.

This year, he said, officials planned an aggressive approach to curb the violence.

“Various units will be deployed: dog units, the flying squad, the equestrian squad, public order police, and the technical response team,” he added.

Authorities have also set up base camps in the surrounding area where victims can get emergency medical care.

Meanwhile, Thomas doesn't want to say what he'll cast away at this year's party, but it seems he won't be able to exchange the goods.

“Some stuff, Papa, 'cause they don't have guarantee.” - Sapa-AFP


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Anonymous, wrote

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06:50pm on 30 December 2011
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I lived in Hillbrow for many as it was an absolute pleasure to walk with the family and see the new year in. The streets were of course corned off. No violence at all. It was most pleasant.It was a wonderful vibe.

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Deena Naidoo, wrote

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06:45pm on 30 December 2011
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'Flying beds and fridges'. Now I've heard it all! What next????? Flying humans! And Zuma states very categorically that 'this year was the best in 17 years' in SA history. F F sake, does he think we are all like him.

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james, wrote

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04:03pm on 30 December 2011
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This is disturbing on so many levels. In another article Zuma is saying the country is better than it was 17 years ago yet this calous mentality exists. If my fridge falls 20 floors and kills someone, too bad! People should know that the Hillbrow residents have a small window of time every year to dispose of crap they no longer want. It is also their contribution to job creation. How messed up is that!!!

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jonny bravo, wrote

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02:58pm on 30 December 2011
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Keep throwing those fridges and couches off the balconies. Let's get the population of fools down before the next elections.

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WTF, wrote

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02:58pm on 30 December 2011
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Why do people (@ Anonymous) claim that Hillbrow was a paradise until the ANC took over? Hillbrow was already becoming a slum in 1988, by 1992 it was a dump and by 1994 it was a no-go zone unless you were a drug dealer. I partied most of my youth away in Hillbrow, and hurling fridges off balconies was happening in the late 80s already...

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jakes, wrote

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02:58pm on 30 December 2011
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it seems like the idiots who throw out things are mostly Zimbabweans it is no wonder their leaders threw them out of the country cause they are thrash themselves

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Neville Paynter, wrote

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02:23pm on 30 December 2011
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I am glad I live in Paarl

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Anonymous, wrote

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01:37pm on 30 December 2011
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For all of you okes mildly interested, do yourselves a big favour and type in to the you tube search window "The Death Of Johannesburg" and watch the 3 min 55 second film with astonishment depicting oomments and stills of life 17 years ago before we were graced with A.N.C. rule. The item will shock your socks off.

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411, wrote

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01:39pm on 30 December 2011
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Zimbabweans took ova, that's why.

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mdk, wrote

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01:37pm on 30 December 2011
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YA! like a helmet is going to help you if a fridge falls on your head.

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Fred, wrote

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01:04pm on 30 December 2011
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Just last night one fool threw an electric kettle on the street that was around 8pm. I pray that it rains!

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Rorus, wrote

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01:10pm on 30 December 2011
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Why don't they just change the name, Hillbrow synonymous to a place I once knew and loved.

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JennyN, wrote

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01:00pm on 30 December 2011
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Yes, I also remember when Hillbrow was a cosmopolitan, vibrant, cheerful place to be. Restaurants, book shops, sidewalk cafes. One would think that people would work to maintain that standard, and not be satisfied with constant danger, crime, violence, filth. Rocky Street has gone the same way, as have the parks in and around Johannesburg (Rhodes Park, Emmerentia Dam). Such a shame.

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Bernice, wrote

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12:57pm on 30 December 2011
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Hillbrow in its day was the place to be. I had some of my best times in Hillbrow. It now has become a hub for all and sundry. What a pity. But then again I ride through my old neighbourhood where I grew up and tears run down my face when I see how it has been destroyed. New Year seems to bring the worst out in people, throwing beds, tv's, washing machines from above seems enjoyment to them. Then they wake up in January and wonder where all there furniture is. Bunch of idiots.

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Miss Marley, wrote

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12:48pm on 30 December 2011
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Stupidity!

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Anonymous, wrote

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12:39pm on 30 December 2011
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17 years ago, I walked the streets of Hillbrow celebrating New Year's eve with friend and family. No flying objects, no drunk people, no stones being thrown at the police. Just happy, merry people enjoying New Years Eve. Pity that's not the case 17 years later...

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