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Violence

Opened in 1978, the 1088 bed Johannesburg General Hospital is a state-run medical facility offering a full range of tertiary, secondary and highly specialised services. Built on a stony outcrop on Parktown Ridge, this imposing concrete structure overlooks Brenthurst Estate, home to the wealthy Oppenheimer family, and beyond that, Johannesburg’s upmarket northern suburbs. For many of the impoverished patients lying in the second and third floor wards it is a cruel view, one that they will never form a part of.

In February 2003, on assignment for Colors magazine, Shoul spent time photographing these young men and women, listening to their stories of violent crime. People like Michael Mohali, 28, a father of two living in Johannesburg, shot from behind while exercising one morning. Also Catherine Maphoto, 19, accidentally shot by her boyfriend while he was cleaning his gun. And Prince Shihlangu, 26, shot three times in an altercation with a taxi driver.

“You become very inured to violence working in a unit like this where violence is the order of the day,” stated Jocelyn Eales, 36, unit manager of the trauma casualty. “Fifty per cent of all cases that we see in this casualty are violence related. We are seeing approximately 100 – 150 gunshot wounds per month.”

An unflinching portrait of city where some figures suggest you are more likely to get shot than have a car accident.