Working for a merry Christmas on mean streets

123RF: Svetlana Kolpakova/Stock Image
Christmas presents 123RF: Svetlana Kolpakova/Stock Image

For over 18 years Dinah Makalela has been waking up at dawn to set up her vegetable stall outside Moletlane Taxi Rank in Zebediela, Limpopo.

She endures the unforgiving sun because she needs to make sure her 14-year-old child has Christmas clothes and new school uniform in the new year.

The 50-year-old mother says she started selling fruits and vegetables when she was still in school because her parents were unemployed and had six children.

"I also couldn't get a job for a very long time," says Makalela.

She has sold vegetables in various parts of Limpopo but the Mawaneng-born hawker has been selling at the busy taxi rank for 10 years.

"All I want is for my child to get a good education; that's what I work for at the end of the day," she said.

The community of vendors in Moletlane are close and even have a stokvel to help each other out through the year.

"We don't have a salary so one never knows how much they will sell but when you know it's your turn to get money then you can do something big," said Makalela.

"Some of us get someone to make us bricks to build our homes, other people pay school fees."

While a bevy of beers, cocktails and soft drinks quench the thirst of Melville's hip Third Avenue patrons, Tomas Muchanga sits out the sweltering day under the shade of the local shops.

Muchanga, from Maputo, Mozambique, is in the business of creating wired toys.

While he is no Santa Clause on a sleigh, he has fashioned himself a community of street vendors who sell their up-cycled goods made from old DVD players and radios, among other miscellaneous finds.

Growing up, Muchanga never enjoyed the luxury of receiving toys so he literally created his own Christmas toys from trash; now he makes them for a living.

The festive season is an especially important time for Muchanga, who supports two households.

"I always try and go back to see my family... I don't want them to have a Christmas the way I used to. I want them to get as much as possible. I want my children to be happier than I was," Muchanga says.

Back at the Moletlane taxi rank, a member of Makalela's stokvel, Zulu Mvundlela, 47, is raising his two children and two adopted children on money he makes from selling live chickens. He depends on this money to make Christmas special for his family.

"Business is so slow right now so we are really struggling and I need to make sure they have food," he says.

Mvundlela raises his own chickens in his yard but says he has been battling with keeping them alive because of rising temperatures and loadshedding.

"I want my kids to one day say they were taken to school with chicken money," he says.