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Photo Essay: Durban’s decay and neglect

Photo Essay: Durban’s decay and neglect
Decay and filth at the Marikana building on University Street, Durban, 8 May 2024. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Daily Maverick’s Chief Photographer spent last week in KwaZulu-Natal on the election trail as the African National Congress rolled out the big guns in the contested and critical province. His camera captured images from Durban’s city centre.

Informal traders have taken over the sidewalks of the Durban CBD and Pietermaritzburg. Trying to navigate Durban, I couldn’t help but think how this once proud and beautiful city had become a shadow of its formal self. The city centre is overrun with homeless people, carrying recyclables and trying to sell their collections to trucks driving around. For many, this is the only way to survive, hoping to sell a few pieces of cardboard in return for a few rands to buy a meal.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Durban mayor acts like an autocrat while the city decays for all to see

Hawkers mostly sell food such as mealie meal and secondhand clothing, using anything with wheels to move their goods around.


MK party and ANC posters hanging on a street pole in Pietermaritzburg CBD. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

As elections loom, campaign posters are on every lamp post, standing guard over dirty water flowing in the road gutters. It was heartbreaking to witness. DM

A garbage collector prepares a load of cardboards to be sold to recyclers in the city. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)


A man crosses Dr Yusuf Dadoo Street in Durban, pulling a trolley heaving under a load of mealie meal which he will deliver to various informal traders. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Durban CBD

Trolley operators in the Durban CBD lining up for more load requests as their way of making a hard-earned living moving wares for the street sellers. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Durban hawkers

Discarded waste on the pavement corner Dr A B Xuma and Dr Yusuf Dadoo streets with hawkers living the streets. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Dragonwyck building

Dragonwyck building at the corner of Broad and St Georges streets. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Park Road, Durban CBD

Decay and filth on Park Road in the Durban CBD. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Garbage and discarded bins left in the middle of the road near Victoria Street in Durban. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Durban China Mall

A Durban China Mall building that was damaged by fire in 2021. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Early Morning Market

Taxis parked next to Durban’s Early Morning Market. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)


An elderly lady tries to cross the street on busy Warwick Avenue. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)


A hawker selling chicken gizzards in Durban’s Warwick Avenue prepares the delicacy for his customers. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Warwick Avenue, Durban

A trolley operator crosses the street on busy Warwick Avenue in Durban, near the Early Morning Market. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

garbage collector

A garbage collector carries a load of cardboard to be sold to recyclers in the City. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Vegetable hawkers

Hawkers selling vegetables in Durban’s Warwick Avenue prepare stock for their customers. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Marikana building

Decay at the Marikana building on University Street, Durban. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)


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