Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Spatial Organisation of Trolley Pushers in Joubert Park

On the morning of the 3rd of February 2009, 106 trolley pushers were counted in the Joubert Park area. Our study shows that 50% of trolley pushers were of Zimbabwean origin, 40% of Mozambican origin, whilst South African trolley pushers made up only 10% of the total number of trolley pushers.

Trolley pusher groups occupy almost every corner of Joubert Park. The groups prefer waiting at known taxi stops, where they are likely to find customers requiring baggage assistance. There are approximately 20 trolley pusher groups operating within a 10 block radius in Joubert Park. Group sizes vary from as little as 2 members to as many as 20 members per group. The groups are formed through informal social agreements where routes of operation are agreed upon. The barriers of access are very low with only R50 required to buy a stolen supermarket trolley. Theoretically, anybody can become a trolley pusher, however the activity is exclusively male dominated.

Trolley Pushers who operate independently, without any affiliation to a group are known as ‘spinners’. ‘Spinners’ tour the city in search of customers and are often accused of stealing people’s luggage. They also cause conflicts with trolley groups as there is severe competition for business. Conflicts amongst larger groups are more common, as every additional member adds to the competition for customers.

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