Street Life is a fantastic series written by Greg Nicolson for the Daily Maverick. It relates true stories of people living in the shadows of South Africa; the homeless, addicts and prostitutes. Here’s an excerpt concerning 28-year old Susan’s underworld life in Hillbrow, Johannesburg:
“This whole syndicate is run by Nigerians. The police will arrest a Zimbabwean guy on the street for fraud not knowing he has a Nigerian boss. The Nigerians have got us all like puppets working for them. They make the money. We do the dirty work for them but theyâ€™re the ones that are running this show. Myself, Iâ€™ll go and do credit card fraud. Heâ€™ll drive me there and stay in the parking lot. Iâ€™ll enter. Iâ€™ll swipe, come back, get in the car and give him the stuff. Heâ€™s going to give me a cut of what Iâ€™ve just gone to do. Thatâ€™s how it works here.
I have a couple of bosses that Iâ€™m testing [drugs] for but they rarely pay me. To them, what they give me is payment enough. But sometimes they bring me shit and what am I gaining? There are many times that theyâ€™ve brought shit that wasnâ€™t even the drug itself and had I not been cautious and checked it first, who knows, I could have died.
When they are desperate they treat me well. But they do get big-headed when they see that Iâ€™m in a desperate situation. For example, if Iâ€™m sick in the morning, they donâ€™t beg because they know that I need them more right now. They actually need me more because I could screw them over. If I tell them that the stuffâ€™s good and they go and blow R30,000 on heroin and itâ€™s shit, then Iâ€™m in trouble. But obviously Iâ€™m scared because theyâ€™ll kill me in a split second. Trust me, theyâ€™ll kill me.”
Read the full article here.