The market place occupies a central place in the metaphorical landscape of the Joubert Park neighbourhood.  It is fundamentally a place of trade and exchange on a variety of levels, from the trade of ordinary goods, through to the acquisition of the extraordinary – a new identity, new tyres, a Nigerian hairstyle, protection or sex.

The demarcated area is characterised by intensive trade during the day both on street level and in buildings. The main goods that are sold include clothes/bags (shops/stalls), curtains (mainly run by Eritrean/Ethiopian traders), fresh produce (supermarkets and street traders). Hardware stores and auto spares are found around the Drill Hall; DVDs (music videos, movies, porn) and music CDs are sold on street corners and small shops (mainly run by Nigerian traders); Cellphones/accessories, jewellery, audio gear and electronics are sold from small shops (mainly Nigerian, Mozambican, Pakistani). Alcohol is available in several bottle stores and bars during the day, taverns and clubs at night –catering for mainly male clientele, often meeting grounds for specific nationalities (Nigerian, Mozambican, South African).

Conflict between traders and business laws/by-laws are ongoing, resulting in intricate systems of bribery, forged licences and mobile trading. Some of the traders have been in the area for more than a decade, still struggling to obtain legal residential and business rights. Many previous office buildings have been converted into interior malls and wholesale mazes (such as the Medical Centre 1 on Jeppe Street). The top floors serve as storage space for goods sold on the streets – many goods are imported from China. Shop owners and traders are of mixed nationalities, with a strong-hold of Eritrean and Ethiopian traders operating in buildings on Jeppe Street, employing mainly non South African tailors and sales assistants.

Other services offered include hair salons for women and men; public phones, car and taxi repairs (Mozambican); car wash (South African); goods transport between markets and stations by trolley-pushers; TRANSPORT (The communal taxies at the Noord Street taxi rank and surrounding informal ranks offer transport of the north of the city and various national/cross border locations, including Lesotho, Maputo, Malawi); internet cafes (fax/photocopying); sex (streets at night, clubs and taverns); drugs, documents (business licences, IDs, VISAs), photos (mainly run by Chinese entrepreneurs); public toilets (in malls); RESTAURANTS on street level and in buildings cater for different culinary tastes, for example Africa Mall 1st floor restaurants include traditional Ethiopian, Mozambican and South Africa cuisine, the 2nd floor in Joburg Mall provides for Ethiopian Customers.

Trading hours begin at 7, with most shops closing at 5 in the afternoon. Night trade: bars/clubs/taverns (also often in squatted buildings), working girls (prostitution – illegal in South Africa) in bars and on streets.


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