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 they’re the ones that are running this show. Myself, I’ll go and do credit card fraud. He’ll drive me there and stay in the parking lot. I’ll enter. I’ll swipe, come back, get in the car and give him the stuff. He’s going to give me a cut of what I’ve just gone to do. That’s how it works here.
I have a couple of bosses that I’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 they’ve brought shit that wasn’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 I’m in a desperate situation. For example, if I’m sick in the morning, they don’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 stuff’s good and they go and blow R30,000 on heroin and it’s shit, then I’m in trouble. But obviously I’m scared because they’ll kill me in a split second. Trust me, they’ll kill me.”
Read the full article here.