A must-see photo essay: New Year’s Eve in Hillbrow as documented by photojournalist Jono Wood.

Most of us celebrated New Year’s Eve with friends and family, perhaps around a fire with a drink in hand. The same can’t be said for photojournalist Jono Wood and writer Camilla Janse van Vuuren, who decided to spend their evening documenting the dawn of the new year in Hillbrow.

The pair tagged along with the police on what turned out to be a very busy night of raids, both on street and within residential blocks. The resulting photos paint a mixed picture of the evening – part celebration, and part war zone.

Here’s Jono’s photos and captions in chronological order. Read Camilla’s excellent writeup of the evening over on Behance.

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Hillbrow Tower, New Year’s Eve.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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Police parade.
Constitution Hill, Johannesburg

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TRT(Tactical Response Team) members.
Constitution Hill, Johannesburg

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Church gathering on Commissioner street for the New Year’s Eve service.
Commissioner Street, Johannesburg

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Police raid on Pretoria street.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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Police question and search a young man after raiding a dark building
(illegally inhabited building with no running water or electricity).
The man had a pair of scissors on him which gives the police reason to believe he is a street mugger.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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Police question a homeless man on New Year’s Eve.
Pretoria Street, Hillbrow

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A man protests to the police after being searched on Pretoria street in an aggressive manner.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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Police search a man outside a dark building
(Illegally inhabited building with no running water or electricity).
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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Minutes before midnight a shebeen (bar where alcohol is sold illegally without a liquor licence)
owner confronts the police who acting on intellegence are confiscating crates of beer and cider.
According to the police this shebeen is linked to many crimes and violent activities due to the fact they sell well after the legal cut off times.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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The alcohol confiscation takes a sudden turn for the worst as a man lights a firework in the room in protest
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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A scuffle breaks out between police and the man who lit the firework further escalating the situation.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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Residents decide smashing the alcohol is a better alternative to having it confiscated and a scene of breaking and throwing bottles at the police ensues.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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The local residents of the shebeen (bar where alcohol is sold illegally without a liquor licence)
chase police out of the building back to the safety of their Nyala (armoured police carrier).
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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A boy plays in the stairwell of his building while police raid.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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Lobby of a building searched by the police.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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A man celebrates on the pavement outside of an apartment building.
Abel Street, Berea

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Two men look down the street before running to their apartment block in fear of being hit by bottles, furniture or fireworks from parties happening on balconies lining the street.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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View of a street in Hillbrow on New Year’s Eve. Recent Years have seen residents throwing furniture and bottles from their balconies. Police have adopted an offensive tactic to prevent people throwing furniture and glass bottles. After seeing any debris being thrown from a balcony, the balcony and suspects are identified from the Nyala (armoured police carrier) and the police raid the building.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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The TRT are called in as backup to a building throwing bottles and fireworks at a police Nyala (armoured police carrier).
The TRT are seen as controversial after being involved in the fatal shooting of 44 miners in Marikana 2012, they carry sub machine guns with live ammunition
Corner Tudhope and Abel, Berea

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A man in the passage of a building being searched by the police, the two stars tattooed under his right eye indicate possible gang involvement.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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Police search a man on the stairwell of his apartment building, police are looking for weapons and drugs trying to minimize the chance of violence and drug related crimes on New Year’s Eve.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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Police search an apartment on New Year’s Eve, the captain in charge of the operation says they are searching specific buildings based on intellegence collected before hand.
The police officer has his Sjambok(heavy leather whip used for self defence)
tucked into the back of his bullet proof vest incase he needs to reach it quickly.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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A man points his fingers in the form of a gun at the police as they are leaving after raiding his New Year’s Eve party.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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Police search a man outside his apartment for weapons or drugs.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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Midnight New Year’s celebrations show fireworks being fired from balconies in all directions.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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View of a street in Hillbrow on New Year’s Eve. Recent Years have seen residents throwing furniture and bottles from their balconies. Police have adopted an offensive tactic to prevent people throwing furniture and glass bottles. After seeing any debris being thrown from a balcony, the balcony and suspects are identified from the Nyala (armoured police carrier) and the police raid the building.
Hillbrow, Johannesburg

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Street view of a Nyala (armoured police carrier) from a balcony where bottles and furniture were suspected to have be thrown.

Photographs shared with permission.

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