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Ponte on Long Street

Ponte on Long Street

by Montle Moorosi, images Adam Kent Wiest / 14.06.2011

“Hey, why don’t you do a story about the gangs in Woodstock? No, wait, how about you go interview the leader of the 28s? Now that’s fucking great hey?”
“Umm… err, how about a CD review this week?”
“No man, we need you doing more stuff like the one about the homeless.”
“Hey Andy, I’d like to do a story about the Stellenbosch garden gnome fair curated by Pieter Hugo, it’s about polysemics and culture.” Says a brown haired white girl with niggardly aspirations.
“Fucking brilliant!” Says the Zionist elder.
“Fucking bullshit.” I say to myself. Not even 40 acres for a good dump. “Ok then… I heard Senator Park is closing down, let me go check it out or something.”
“What’s Senator Park?”
“It’s the Ponte of Cape Town.”
“OK, that sounds rad, but you should try spend the night.”
“And write the story while you’re there.” Roger adds.
“Hey Andy what about a story about the semiotic conundrums of Rihanna’s new music video?” Says the socialist fat white guy with black Portuguese hairs coming out of his nose.
“Fucking brilliant…get on that. Ok guys, so whose covering the Tretchikoff exhibition?” He says before going to The Kitchen in Woodstock for a butternut quiche.

Back in 2009 a university student by the name of Jeffrey Webster got abducted at Senator Park, this made me laugh when the press and other concerned Cape Town residents threw a tantrum, I mean… shit, you don’t go to a water park without expecting to get wet. On the 20th of April this year the High Court passed a ruling authorising the upgrade of the building. This would involve removing the residents, who were yet to be told of their impending eviction.

Senator Park

Unlike Ponte in Johannesburg, Senator Park’s immediate surrounds aren’t covered in squalor like the actual building itself. Ponte and Hillbrow deteriorated at the same time, while Senator Park’s demise happened against the backdrop of Long Street’s upswing. Today the Park is like a giant pus filled cyst on the arch of a beatiful nordic, blonde hair and blue eyed model’s nose… who probably works at Boss and waitresses part time serving burgers at Royale, just around the corner. The model really hates this cyst, and yet she has this strange fascination with it, always prodding, poking, popping, sniffing… just to see what comes out. And no matter how much Maybelline she applies, she just can’t hide her lovely little cyst. So now she’s just going to get a nose job… or cut off her nose entirely. There’s a by-law for every unpleasant sight in Cape Town.

Its 10am on a Sunday and the corner boys are already out, the whores, the children, the customers darting in and out of Senator Park like the rats they are. The dealers immediately swoop on me as I had expected them to.
“Yo my man, yo my man!” The usual banter in a West African accent.
I seek out the most sane looking guy, as in the one who wasn’t saying “yo my man” over and over again. I find no one, so I head down a side street where I see some kids playing around with a shoddy old bicylce.
“Sup?” They stop what they’re doing and look at me intently.
“Do you guys live inside here?” They nod yes, smiles forming at the edges of their mouths, hair uncombed, skin dry. Only cocaine, no cocoa butter in these terraces. They definetly don’t look like drug dealers. For a second I begin to wonder what would happen to them when they are evicted.

Senator Park

Seeing that I only had R180 in my pocket and I needed some sort of reason to enter the building, I’d just have to slum it down and buy some weed… earlier I dabbled with the idea of buying and smoking tik… you know, to give the story more of a “Cape Town” feel, but when I realised how much I earn I was like “fuck cutting edge journalism”.
At the entrance I’m faced by the usual harangue of “yeah my mans, I got nice coke my mans” and this time I choose a guy in a white Nike jacket and say to him, “I just need some weed.”
“Sure my man, gimme 50 bucks and I’ll bring it for you.”
“Ha ha… um… I don’t think so. I’m coming with you.”
“My man, trust me. I bring it for you now.”
“No you won’t… it’s OK, I’ll just buy from that guy there.” I say pointing to some other Nigerian in a fake Armani cap.
“OK sure, let’s go.” He says reluctantly. I could smell my blood and that Pulitzer again. God I hope I get stabbed!
The foyer of Senator Park as you can guess smells funny. Not like shit, but just funny. Like two pygmies wrestling in a sauna. The dealer took me up the fire escape and we walked up two flights of stairs. It’s like one of those old high rise apartment buildings you’ve been to but without the reputation of prostitution and Wilbur Smith’s kid’s arctic adventure. The carpeted hallways are covered with cigarette burns, and most doors stay tightly shut, but a few are ajar so you can hear high life music or people fucking. Before we reach his door on the third floor, I ask him, “how long have you been living here?”
”Long time my man.”
We walk a few paces, muffled music seeps through the tiny cracks of the doors. I hear babies crying, men laughing, I smell smoke, a child runs past us screaming at the top of her lungs as she’s being chased by another young boy, smiling wildly. We stop at a door, the number missing. He knocks and says something in a language I will never understand or bother to know. He palms something. He takes my R50. He grabs me by the arm and makes me walk with him in the same direction we came, not forcefully but more directionally… like a tourist guide.
On the staircase he gives me two thin joints.
“What the fuck is this?”
“Thats weed my man… some good stuff.”

“Two joints for 50 bucks?” I smell the joints, they smell of compost and Panado tablets. “This shit isn’t worth R50.”
“My man I’m telling you this is good stuff.”
“Maybe they should close this shit hole down!”
“Sure my man, my name is James, take down my numba!”

I walk into the light of the mid morning feeling empty, not disillusioned or emo or bummed or anything like that. Just another empty vessel in a pottery shop set against a back drop of rustic furniture and Tretchikoff prints. Expensive furniture made to look shit. I am loving Cape Town.

Senator Park

*All images © Adam Kent Wiest.

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RESPONSES (32)
  1. Miles says:

    Whats up with Montles’ CONSTANT references to nazi & anti semitic stuff? Is this a new level of blipster ironicism? Its always a swasitka, an aryan this, a nordic that, a zionist this, a star david here, my aryan girl that? Its just weird

    That aside – great read

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  2. dudie says:

    yeah, whatever – but he writes like a motherfucker!

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  3. 1D10t says:

    Great story. I’m starting to love this guy’s writing.

    THe sooner they shut down that festering cesspit the better all of our lives will be. Just stand outside this building at night and watch the dealers dropping stash down to the runners below, or watch the putrid vaginas on sale coming in and out.

    I actually couldn’t give a single shit about what happens to those evicted. They don’t pay rent, it’s a crime haven, an eyesore and the reality is that we just don’t need these elements in the city. Fuck off and die.

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  4. Pascal says:

    I really enjoyed this article, but it totally seems like the second half is missing.

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  5. jackson says:

    i wake up. turn on the kettle. roll a section of golden vag. open laptop. http://www.mahala.co.za. praying for a jus article. my day has begun. thank you.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    if you followed 90% of the criminals in town, from store theft to dealers, they go straight into Senator Park.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    i mean, i work in long street and i personally have chased multiple shoplifters into senator park. honestly, its got to the point where when they run, your aim is to try catch them before they get there, cause once they do it’s game over i suppose.

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  8. jamie says:

    anyone been in the tenderloin in san francsico?
    they have 200 senator parks there and the city seems to be thriving. i say we get rid of the germans before the dealers – gentrification is much scarier than one building full of fuck ups.

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  9. Doella says:

    Senator Park is jus gat. My granny lives there, we dont visit as much, but probably visit her as much as any reader on mahala visit the elderly. And she no criminal, she actually sells koesisters on sundays and everything. She that kinda granny.

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  10. Dplanet says:

    Montle, why do you always only write half an article?

    I love your writing – I know this is free and I have no right to complain, but I want more.

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  11. DontTestLordFinesse says:

    Montle your a G dawg, we must have a blunt when your in Johazardousburg sometime. Word up!

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  12. JM Koet$ee says:

    So, did you smoke the joints? Were they majat? What…?

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  13. lulz says:

    um… you went into the building, were thewre for a few minutes, then left. That is the extent of your experience\research ? Did you even walk around the whole thing ? If this is the extent of your interest in the subject you choose to write about… that ain’t much my china.

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  14. Chris says:

    OK, that sounds rad, but you should try spend the night.

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  15. Tom-d says:

    A dealer took me up the fire escape once. Quite a pleasant experience as I remember it.

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  16. montle says:

    Research is for fags

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  17. “Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength” says:

    …”So here’s a story from A to Z, you wanna get with me
    you gotta listen carefully,
    We got Em in the place who likes it in your face,
    we got G like MC who likes it on an
    Easy V doesn’t come for free, she’s a real lady,
    and as for me..ah you’ll see,
    Slam your body down and wind it all around
    Slam your body down and wind it all around…”

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  18. Bonzo says:

    That was good to read, I just wanted more.

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  19. bce says:

    fuck you montle you insecure little twerp

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  20. Urk says:

    “He knocks and says something in a language I will never understand or bother to know.”

    Naais bru.

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  21. DonDon says:

    I got deeper than you, Montle. Walked down a long dark passage with this Nigerian dude in gold chains and his thumbs hitched in his belt staring at me unblinking as I approached. There were fistholes in some doors. Turned the corner past stinking shithouses to a window. Looked down at trash. A voice behind me said ‘Kid jumped out there last week. Only broke his leg. Lucky for the trash.’ It was the Nigerian who’d followed. Upstairs I found an open gate and got onto the roof. Fine view but figured maybe it was a trap and I’d find the gate locked and held for randsom so didn’t stay long. On the way down a nice granny said she owned a flat and the place was going to the dogs. Going? Met the caretaker, white dude. The wreck has a caretaker? I told him he was the bravest caretaker I’d ever met.

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  22. Anon says:

    Last year I was stupid enough to go there to get some smack and sidewalk punani at about 1am (after being stood up by the finest yellow bone in CT).

    I was led into the building by the chick and her pimp to what I think was the 6th floor or so. Needless to say i scored what i wanted (in the fucken shower cause the room/flat was full of weird types.

    On my way out a dredlocked Malawian dude just cornered me in the stairwell, jacked my fone and just walked off nonchalantly. I then went back to the girl shook like a bitch but she was not in that flat anymore (I think she was in on the con). Luckily for me I met the pimp who told me to not confront the Malawian dred because he is hardbody like that and would snuff me just to pass time by. The good samaritan pimp offered his services to get my cell back at a norminal fee of R800 which I bargained down to R500.

    We tracked the dred who was a few blocks away and when I asked him where my fone was and he just developed amnesia on us. I then left them to work out a deal and the pimp returned my fone.

    Needless to say I got my fone back and swore to myself never to set foot in that building again. I can honestly tell ya that was the scariest 4hrs of my life, EVER.

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  23. Just Curious says:

    Anon I think you should have written the piece seemed like your experience was seriously more embedded.

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  24. lexy says:

    dont you guys fucking proofread? or at least run spell check?

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  25. DonDon says:

    Hey man, you clearly can’t see the trees for the wood.

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  26. sunny says:

    My room has a view looking out on that building and I’ve spent endless evenings plotting out scenarios and creepy scenes, listening to them scream and fight all through the night, cops blasting warnings over loudspeakers.
    You should do a nice looong fiction piece on this – I would if I could write 😉

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  27. kaapstad says:

    fucking A for your writing bro, creates a sence of reality. either cause you write so well or cause ive been in simular situations, haha. but who hasnt in cape town. lekka

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  28. a nun says:

    very, very surface article.

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  29. dudie says:

    i dig how anton and don don had to finish the story for montle – although he can string sentences together it seems like there is not much of a story.

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  30. montle says:

    i love how dudie is obsessed with me.

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  31. dudie says:

    yes i am… i want you, montle moroosi – i want your chemical imbalances too. if/when you get rid of that big capetonian head of yours, you might actually become a good writer. until then, keep searching for that story MY MAN. ‘fuck cuttng edge journalism?’ well, you said it.

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  32. Nick Frost says:

    I miss Mahala so much. The article was enjoyable. But once again, winning comments.

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