Media Articles

Häuserkampf in Johannesburg

“Die 39-jährige Cikizwa Gqokoma hat in ihrem Leben bereits einige Erfahrungen mit Sanierungsprojekten in Johannesburg gesammelt. Ich habe sie im April dieses Jahres in einem Fast-Food-Restaurant in Jewel City kennengelernt, einem Areal in der Innenstadt, das mit fast 100 Millionen Euro saniert wurde. Mit relativ preiswerten Wohnungen, Läden, Restaurants sowie einem offenen Platz, auf dem sich Jugendliche nach der Schule treffen, kann es vielfältig genutzt werden.”

Article: Making meaning in Johannesburg

Making meaning in Johannesburg

“During South Africa’s turbulent period of transition, Johannesburg’s inner city underwent a transformation nearly as dramatic as the country itself. As apartheid came apart, the country’s leading companies fled north, disinvesting just as migrants from across the country and the continent arrived in the city center in pursuit of a better life…”

Article: Those who make homes in dark buildings

Paul T. Clarke| Those who make homes in dark buildings

“Perhaps because the city is so invested in its ever-expanding peripheries, Johannesburg’s urban core is commonly treated less as a place than as a problem. For those with fond memories of the city’s past, the inner city’s decay is cause for bitter nostalgia. For South Africa’s rising right-wing, it is evidence for the need for a more authoritarian approach to crime and immigration.”

A blind inner-city Zimbabwean migrant

Mail & Guardian Review: Opening eyes to Jozi’s inner city

“After reading The Blind City, perhaps your own view of Joburg will change or, at the very least, you will open your eyes and look around at the heartbreak and struggle. And maybe we will all be just a little kinder to the blind man or mother at the busy intersection, asking for help and trying to survive on the harsh streets of Jozi.” Jo Buitendach

Postcast In The Ring

Podcast: IN THE RING with EUSEBIUS McKaiser

“I interviewed Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon about his stunning book, The Blinded City- Ten Years In Inner-City Johannesburg, which tells countless and complex sets of stories about people who occupy buildings in inner-city Johannesburg.

Some call these bulldings “hijacked buildings” but Matthew explains why this term is problematic. He has spent over ten years getting to know the people living in these buildings, recording their stories, following lawfare between these communities, property developers and the City of Johannesburg.

What emerges is an incredible book that isn’t just about an ongoing housing crisis, but a struggle for the right of people who live precariously to be treated with dignity, an inviolable right that they are inherently entitled to but all too often denied.

No one with a serious interest in making sense of the urban landscape, and our myriad political  fissures, can skip this conversation. Listen to it, and buy Matthew’s book.

This is a story about Johannesburg, in the first instance, but one with global echoes and therefore of international interest also.” – Eusebius McKaiser

EUSEBIUS MCKAISER | If you love Johannesburg, learn about her blind spots

“They have hijacked it!” I said to my partner as we walked past a derelict home in Parkhurst, a few vagrants sitting on the porch. The house looked stripped of most of its assets, the outer wall was gone, and the grass had not been cut in a very long time. We have occasionally seen waiters who work at the various local restaurants congregating at this neglected house, and we always presumed it to be their lunch hour. Today, the smiles on the faces of the people who were there, accompanied by a suitcase or two, suggested more than a temporary visit. We swiftly walked past to one of our favourite restaurants…

Author Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon sheds light on inner-city Joburg’s ‘dark’ buildings

Many inner-city Johannesburg buildings are in a terrible state, but thousands of vulnerable immigrants have found refuge living in these ‘dark’ or ‘hijacked’ buildings. Author and academic Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon takes us on an epic journey inside some of these buildings and details the struggles of the ‘illegal occupiers’.


Those who haunt inner city Johannesburg have their own ways of being

Wamuwi Mbao reviews The Blinded City by Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon

The Blinded City is a tribute to the people of the inner-city

If you’re interested in the politics of the Johannesburg inner-city, then Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon’s book is a must-read. The Blinded City is a narrative style nonfiction book which takes an in-depth look at ten years of Johannesburg’s inner-city.

Opening a blind city's eyes to inner-city humanity

Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon has spent the past 10 years documenting those who have been dehumanised and criminalised in Johannesburg

After xenophobic violence, there was Operation Fiela to 'sweep out the dirt'

South Africa’s biggest city is ground zero for debates about the long-term effectiveness and constitutionality of militarized urban policing and how we imagine the post-COVID city.

Johannesburg cannot police its future

South Africa’s biggest city is ground zero for debates about the long-term effectiveness and constitutionality of militarized urban policing and how we imagine the post-COVID city.

Covid-19 lockdown needs to protect inner-city communities

It is critical that police and army deployment for the Covid-19 lockdown does not result in the persecution of residents of unlawful occupations.

Op-Ed: Meaningful engagement, not militarisation, is the way forward for Mashaba’s Johannesburg

Herman Mashaba’s visits to so-called hijacked buildings shows engagement may be complex, but is not impossible and offers the best way forward for Johannesburg. 

Zille’s Tweets and History’s Miasma

In the departure lounge of OR Tambo (taking a break from complaining about the missing TV remote and milk) Helen Zille, the former leader of South Africa’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), and premier of the Western Cape, casually invoked, in a series of tweets, one of the continued liberal myths of colonisation – that Europeans brought advanced and widespread medical care to the colonies…

HIV has no borders, but its treatment does. Why this needs to change

Panashe is a 26-year-old Zimbabwean woman living with HIV. She works in a restaurant on the western peripheries of Johannesburg. She has known she is HIV positive since she was 20 years old living in Harare, Zimbabwe. This is where she started her antiretroviral treatment. She takes her antiretrovirals religiously and without problems. But this was not always the case…

Op-Ed: Expansion of low-cost housing for all is a necessity for inner-city Johannesburg

The City of Johannesburg is considering a plan to expand inner-city low-cost housing to 36,000 people. JEAN-PIERRE MISAGO and MATTHEW WILHELM-SOLOMON argue that this proposed housing expansion would be a critical move in ensuring inclusive urban regeneration, and that it should be available both to South Africans and to foreign nationals.