SOCIAL SEGREGATION AT DURBAN MARKET
By: Pamella Magwaza
20 years into democracy and now it would seem that our country suffers from a separation of a different kind.
It is no longer race that shakes up unity amongst South Africans but rather class. Durban Warwick Market is an example of where all of this is witnessed.
Durban Warwick Market is a booming entrepreneurial environment where many disadvantaged African people sell goods to make an honest living.
“Durban Market is a good place for poorer black people, it caters for those black people who cannot afford to go buy at your Woolworths or even Shoprite,” said Ntokozo Mduna, a student.
It looks like the past racial imbalances have caused class imbalances. To understand the current state of the Warwick market we must take a look into its history.
The first people to trade in this area were Indian people who sold on the street pavements around Warwick. Over time, African people also came in to trade in this area. These areas were neglected by the apartheid government. Only in 1980 did the apartheid government recognize these markets for their help in boosting the South African economy.
The government then allocated areas of trade for the African and Indian traders.
20 years after South Africa has become a free country where there are no laws that enforce racial segregation, the effects of the laws that were, have now caused social segregation.
“Most of the people who trade at the Markets are poor black people., 20 years after democracy there are still more black people who are vendors or dirt poor,” said Durban central Resident, Kholeka Sithole.
“I would rather not walk through the Markets unless I am forced too because I have to take a taxi somewhere. It is usually very dirty and quite dangerous for young girls,” said Sithole.
Most financially privileged people would rather not be found walking through or even buying from the Markets. Yet a brief walk through the Market is very telling.
Nathi Magwaza grew up taking public transport from the market area shared how he sees travels around the area to be an unequal racial transaction.
“It is usually people who cannot afford their own cars who are found in that area, which happens to be people of color, namely Blacks and Indians,” said Magwaza.
Magwaza said that blame should not be thrown around through racial influence but the public should rather converse closely with local government to ensure absolute equality in the vicinity.
“I do not believe rich white people can be blamed for not being poor. The old government gave them the privilege of being the favored race and those effects are still evident today and will be for a while,” he added.
World Bank Country Director for South Africa, Asad Alam, called South Africa one of the most unequal societies in the world in terms of opportunity.
“The top half of the population accounts for 58% of the country’s income while the bottom half accounts for 0.5% and the bottom half less than 8%. In large part, this an enduring legacy of the apartheid system, which denies black people, especially Africans, the chance to accumulate capital in any form – land , finance, skills or social networks,” said Alam.