Nokwanda Zono avoids our stare as she packs up her wares and folds her rickety table at the end of the trading day. Since 1981 she has sold at the intersection of the main exchange in the small Eastern Cape town of emaXesibeni, which was formerly known as Mount Ayliff. A few feet away, a fiftysomething-year-old woman brushes away with a broom the dusty remnants of the day — empty juice bottles, cigarette stubs, banana peels and polystyrene leftovers of lunchtime delights. The lady, not much older than Nokwanda, dons the orange overalls of the EPWP (expanded public works programme). She and her counterparts ensure that the streets are clean enough for the next day’s trade. Their task is to clean up as the chaos of the taxi rank across the road descends into an eerie silence at the end of the day, before the hooters, touting screams and smoke-filled clothes of patrons fill the Transkei air again in the morning. Not too far away from the hustle and bustle of the informal market are the...

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