When was the last time you went to Bruma Lake? Well, after close to two decades, I decided to pack some padkos, start up the ol’ Honda Jazz and go check out the place. What I do remember is that the place was filled with dudes trying to sell drugs – to a 14 year old Shawn, I might add. It was a weird and wonderful section of town that both scared and excited me. Why I never went back until now still baffles me… I might have been too busy chasing girls and skateboarding.
With that said, I intentionally did not read up about the place before I left my home on this adventure. What was waiting for me on the other side of the Great Divide (also known Hillbrow)? See, for some reason I’ve put up a mental block that would not allow me to travel any further east through town than Ponte City. It’s as if Ellis Park was the edge of the cliff and everything after that was Niche’s abyss.
— City of Joburg (@CityofJoburgZA) July 5, 2016
To my surprise, the road rolls on after you pass through Berea, past Highlands and through Lorentzville; arriving at the “Jewel Of The East”, as Bruma Lake has come to be known. In fact, the entire area was revamped and opened to the public by the ex-Joburg executive mayor, Parks Tau. Fortunately for Joburg stalwarts like us, the R71.5 million revamp at least saw them keeping the iconic bridge that links Bruma Lake’s banks together.
Here’s what I discovered during my trip:
The new Bruma Oriental City was constructed at the previous Bruma flea market in Johannesburg. The first phase of the project was completed and occupied at the beginning of 2015.
There are more than 300 shops in the shopping centre, with a total construction area of 25,000 square metres… so, there is literally something for everyone. Feel like having authentic xiaolongbao dumplings? You’ve got it. Need a new bumper for your 1997 Toyota Tazz? No problem. Variety is the crux of this massive mart. And I am convinced that by the time you read this, there will be at least another ten shops added to Bruma Oriental City’s repertoire.
The shopping centre is a Johannesburg landmark and sees weekend shoppers travel from as far as Krugersdorp to shop and chill. Mass-market retail property in the area houses a wide range of merchants offering diverse products. From high-quality apparels to trendy cellphone accessories, the Bruma merchants strive to deliver the best value for your money.
With that said, do yourself a favour and cross the long divide between wherever you stay to Bruma Lake. It has changed a lot since you last saw it, I’m convinced. Just know that the remnants of old Bruma is still around, so – as with everything else in Jozi – be wary of your surroundings as a few people have told me that pick-pocketing is popular thing there. Then again, it happens at many shopping centres, so don’t let that keep you away. Just be vigilant.
For more information about Bruma Lake visit the Orient Group online.
By Shawn Greyling