South Africa moved quickly to battle the threat of Covid-19, but there are fears that it may now be losing the war. On one phone, Janine Joubert uploads images of a fresh consignment of contraband cigarettes and on another she summons an Uber for a delivery to an exclusive security estate in Johannesburg. A customer on the WhatsApp group she set up to cash in on the lockdown ban on tobacco sales has run out of his favourite Marlboros.

In a township outside Cape Town, at the other end of the country, Beatrice Mangasa asks clients leaving her backroom hair salon to wear hats to hide their…

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