Car-guard and informal trader. Pavement outside SARS, Albany Grove.
Gloria sits on a small wall behind her shop counter a postbox worn smooth through years of use. Displayed on its surface are the products she sells an assortment of multicoloured sweets and loose cigarettes. A group of SARS employees out on a smoke break mingle on the pavement occasionally buying from her.
“You won’t believe it but I’m fifteen years standing on this corner,” Gloria tells us. “Sometimes I have company (other traders) but they don’t stay for long. When it’s raining or cold they go but I’m used to it. I still come here. For myself it’s fine because I can buy something for my living life. It’s not like I’m just sitting at home and doing nothing.”
Apart from the small shop she runs, Gloria also watches over the cars parked in Albany Grove. Combined she takes home between R80 and R100 a day. Even though she is an integral part of the area’s security, Gloria still has to defend her right to operate on this street. “I’ve just had a fight with this guy at the back. He says I’m stealing his business but I say no, I’m not stealing anything; I’m trying for my living life. But he doesn’t understand this. I told him that I look after the cars and I tell him that if anything happens around I call the police and they come. I’ve got a number for them. So many of the criminals they caught was through me. This guy tried to chase me away the other day but the police came around and they said you can’t chase this lady because she is doing a lot of job for us. She is part of our job because she can phone us and tell us what is going on and whatever else. One day they stole a van here. I got so upset. The car was just gone. I was shocked and my heart was sore. Things have changed in the past fifteen years, they have gone more down.”
Despite all this, Gloria is content with her life. “I live by myself in Ntuzuma Township,” she tells us. “I haven’t been married but I am happy this way.”