Staff riding, the local slang for train surfing, is a widespread phenomenon in South Africa. A huge majority of surfers are kids under 25. The spectacular and risky act of train surfing has become a binding framework for an entire township's youth. Although amputations and deaths are common, the activity remains as popular as ever.
The act also has a protest dimension. Katlehong, where these images were made, is one of the largest townships in South Africa and played a key role in the history of the struggle against apartheid. Two decades ago, the place served as an epicenter for anti-apartheid's guerrillas. Today, for many of these youths, the situation of segregation remains more or less unchanged. In a place where violence, poverty, drug abuse and AIDS are rampant, train surfing represents the search for social redemption.
Staff Riding is part of a long-term project about the township lifestyle 20 years after the official end of apartheid.