As the country celebrates Women’s Month, spare a thought for the countless female street vendors out there. Many work from dawn to dusk in harrowing conditions.
For the past 19 years Maggieie Sithole wakes ups at 1am to prepare her magwinya mixture and bakes scones. Sithole’s business was founded after she was left financially bereft following a divorce.
“My business started after the father of my children and I separated in the year 2000. I decided that I needed to start a business. So I started in the year 2000 on the 4th of March. I’ve been here for over 18 years cooking fat cakes up to so far I can survive. I can support my children and pay rent for the flat and I also built a home from the money I make here.”
Sixty-year-old Sithole believes people look disdainfully on her profession but she argues they are people trying to eke out a living.
Sithole’s story’s not unique. Women have turned to food vending for a livelihood.
Seven years ago, mother of four, Nelsiwe Khumalo began her journey. She says this was better than doing nothing in her village in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal.
“I started this business after I saw my own circumstances where not good. Everyone is dependent on me and I am a person that doesn’t like to depend on others so I thought let me go to Johannesburg and open my own business. Everything I need is paid for from the money I make from this corner.”
The individual stories all weave a powerful tapestry of endurance, suffering and finally beating the odds.
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