Cape Town, South Africa – The informal economy has become a vital source of jobs for many in South Africa with the country’s unemployment rate at 25.5 percent. Without the informal economy, that unemployment would jump to 45.7 percent.
Alongside economic woes, these jobless figures have also contributed to a culture of xenophobia.
Cape Town has been mapped out as one of the most unequal cities in South Africa. Its central business district has the least amount of street traders out of the country’s four biggest cities, but it has the highest proportion of foreign African traders.
For the past two decades, Somali refugees have streamed into South Africa to escape war at home, and 32-year-old Mohamud Abdulle is one of them. Abdulle left Somalia in hope of a better future, and has been in South Africa for more than 15 years. He now has South African citizenship, but he is seldom accepted as a member of the nation.
Greenmarket Square, the Grand Parade, and Adderley Street – where Abdulle trades – are some of Cape Town’s most celebrated historical sites. Yet, as more foreign hawkers populate the urban centre and turn to the informal economy under the threat of destitution, a bitterness has grown among some Cape Townians.