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A group of Uber drivers in Cape Town use social media messaging platform WhatsApp to share information about where their cars can be washed at discounted rates; where the latest deals for tyres or other car maintenance services are to be found; and who is looking for drivers or partner slots on the platform. But their messages also increasingly lament stories of colleagues suffering stabbings, shootings and murder as the app that has hailed new opportunities for work starts being used to hail crime. In countries such as SA with high unemployment levels (officially 27%), “gig work” — piecemeal work structured through apps that connect workers with users — offers ample opportunities for work outside the strictures of traditional labour markets. But work for the likes of Uber (ride-hailing), SweepSouth (domestic services) and UpWork (freelance work) also raises red flags regarding the potential exploitation of vulnerable workers. Will tackling SA’s unemployment problem through poten...

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