It’s eight in the morning and Bree Street taxi rank in Johannesburg is buzzing with activity. People hurrying to work only stop for a moment to buy food from the dozens of vendors lining the walls of the dark rank.

Every morning Ishmael Kroos arrives at Bree taxi rank at five to start his shift. The 21-year-old Malawian-born man works for 13 hours at his station: a stall inside the dark rank where he sells fried chips, crisps, sweets, vetkoek, scones and some fruit. This morning a handful of people crowd in front of his stall, attracted by the strong smell of vinegar and the sound of frying chips.

“Everyday I buy chips here, they taste mnandi [nice],” said Constance Sibiya as she waits for her R7 meal. A double portion of chips costs R15. As she pours salt into the square polystyrene container, she said that, along with being tasty, the chips are “affordable” and filling.

Looking at the fruit arranged in front of Kroos’ sweets and crisps she said that “I don’t ever buy that”. Kroos also sells bananas (R2.50 each), apples (R3), peaches (R4) and plums (R2).

Half an hour later, there’s a lull in customers and Kroos sits on a stool and begins to peel potatoes at a record pace, throwing the peels into a cardboard box lying on the ground next to him.

“Most people buy the chips. Some buy fruit, but they don’t buy both,” he said.

Constance Sibirya has chips for breakfast every morning from Bree taxi rank because she likes the taste and they are filling. (Credit: Kim Harrisberg)