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Started by ex-Mail & Guardian journalist Nickolas Bauer and Mike Luptak, profits from the tours are used to fund a creche on the ground floor of Ponte, as well as other programmes to benefit the community.

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Well, many of those things are (or were) true, even the “District 9” reference, because they filmed part of it (plus “Chappie” and the latest installment of “Resident Evil”, among other movies) in its core – but more of that later.

With unhindered and unbelievable views onto Hillbrow and then out past the Hillbrow Tower as far as Sandton and Northcliff, our guide James gives us a rundown of the building’s very colourful history.

Things got so bad that Ponte became one of Johannesburg’s “hijacked” buildings, run by illegal landlords. A husband-and-wife team, Elma and Danie Celliers, were put in charge and hired red ants to come in and evacuate all the illegal residents.

A massive renovation programme began, which included refurbishing the eight elevators.

Immigrants from Africa flooded in after the white flight to the suburbs, and it became know by nicknames such as Little Zaire.

So much garbage was thrown down its core that the level of putrefaction rose for many storeys.

Then there were the gangs, the prostitutes, the illegal landlords.

It could have been a place out of the sci-fi movie “District 9”.

To get into the building you have to have your fingerprint registered – a method more and more buildings in the inner city are using for security – and residents late with rent quickly get denied access to the building and have their possessions put outside.

Of the 3,500 residents, about 10 percent are white and, as James says, there are, curiously enough, a lot of Vendans.

The garbage in the core rose up 14 storeys high, and had to be cleaned out by hand.

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