Heneck, Sarah. 2020. Undeterred in the Face of a Crisis: Profile of a Market Trader in Durban, South Africa. WIEGO Workers' Lives No. 9. WIEGO.
Romilla Chetty, a successful third-generation trader in Durban’s Warwick Junction, tells of how her family suffered with no income through the long months of being shut out of the market in South Africa’s early COVID-19 lockdown.
A determined advocate in the struggle for traders’ rights, Romilla owns six stalls in the Early Morning Market and the table she spends much of her days at draws customers with its colourful herbs and spices, and fresh and dry goods.
Romilla’s days are long and her work tiring, but she was desperate to get back up and running and worked hard to get the market properly open. To prove to local authorities that adequate measures to prevent COVID-19 spread could be upheld with all market gates open, she and colleagues ensured that all the traders were equipped with the necessary PPE.
“Being the brave person that I am, I have overcome my fear of the virus and have learnt to live with it because it is going to be part of our lives,” she says. “We just got to be extra careful.”