It is well established that there is all manner of undesirable activity in the inner city of Johannesburg, undertaken by immigrants and locals alike.

What is openly contestable is whether being an informal immigrant trader is synonymous with being a “criminal”. In the heat of the frenzied looting we saw last week in Soweto, that distinction was an inconvenience that might have prevented people from expropriating without compensation the soft drinks, flour and sweets they desired. The fact that the authorities had labelled these products “fake” didn’t seem to stop them.

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