Township Tsotsi 1/4

By Drum Digital
05 August 2014

Vusi didn’t think of himself as a criminal, not really . . .

Vusi stood at the taxi rank, a frown creasing his broad forehead. Where was that gangster, Bongani? Had he gone off again on one of his extra trips to town? He was such a greedy man, grabbing extra fare from every gogo who desperately needed to get to her destination urgently.

A cut-price sale, a friend who needed visiting in hospital, or a personal emergency – these were the kind of occasions when Bongani took advantage of his desperate passengers – those poor hardworking people. At least, thought Vusi, what I do is only a temporary job – until something else comes along.

All I have to do is wait for these gogos to get off Bongani’s minibus when he stops it in the right place for me. As they heave their bulky bags out . . . Pow! Grab and run. Vusi thought this was fair. Not exactly criminal, since he was faced with a stark choice: steal or starve. But Bongani wasn’t in the same position at all. It was just never enough for him.

No, that was not the way to be, Vusi nodded to himself. He took a certain pride in being a good grabber and runner. He had to be clever enough to pick the right people and never be rough or hurt the ladies.

Suddenly he saw the familiar white shape of the taxi roaring down the dirt road towards him. Bongani’s sweaty face appeared behind the windscreen. The man was like a maniac, the way he drove – always in a furious hurry to make as many trips as he could.

It was dangerous to drive so fast. Not only for Bongani, who could be killed or badly hurt, but for his passengers too. If he had an accident he wouldn’t be there to clothe and feed his large family. And what would they do then?

Vusi had a wife and children too and that was why Bongani understood his problem. He helped Vusi by telling him when he was leaving and when he was likely to arrive back at the township. If he knew what Vusi wanted this information for, he never mentioned it.

He frowned again. Eish, it was very difficult to find a job. He had been looking for almost two years with no luck. The battered taxi came to a screeching halt, dust billowing from behind its smooth tyres. Bongani fl ung open the driver’s door and leapt out. Two middleaged women also got out of the taxi, carrying their laden shopping bags.

Vusi watched them carefully. He noticed that Bongani looked at them as if they were cattle he’d just transported to the nearest abattoir. Vusi always felt nervous and almost apologised to his victims while he snatched their bags.

Bongani began to walk away towards the nearby spaza to buy his favourite meal; a bunny chow and a Coke.

To be continued...

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