Taxi industry loses key leader

2013-03-04 00:00

THULANI Phumuzamaswazi “TP” Kubheka (57), was an exceptional figure who held numerous leadership positions at many levels and in many offices across South Africa.

In each of those positions, and to every group he was leading or advising, he was the respected key.

Hailing from Newcastle in Northern KZN, he became involved in the public transport sector in 1985 and was a founding member of Sizwe Taxi Association, one of the country’s largest long-distance taxi associations the following year.

He then began advising the Department of Transport on public transport matters and went on to become the first registrar of taxis in KZN in 1994.

His contribution to the industry catapulted him to the pinnacle of the taxi industry.

He was able to ease any situation, and leave meetings with adversaries laughing and moving forward with him as their unofficial helmsman.

This ability became his brand mark, and he was constantly crossing the country, Cape Town today, Mpumalanga tomorrow, Durban in the evening, his cellphone rang almost every 30 seconds and he could conduct two conversations on his phones simultaneously.

And this was the grease that helped make the national taxi industry work.

One person, a moving well of advice and support, rushing to the next meeting that would not start without him, others waiting outside for an audience with him and all along, he would be playing pranks, joking, disarming and taking you with him.

His illness (kidney failure) kept him in hospital from December until his death on Friday. TP was robust, he was the go-to guy, he was invincible, but sadly and that’s what those close to him are battling to understand, he was human.

The vacuum felt by his family and colleagues is enormous, not from a commercial or industry perspective, but for the place he took inside all those who knew him. He will be buried in Newcastle on Saturday.

On Thursday, taxi operators will hold a memorial service at his home in Newcastle.

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