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Are taxis hell on wheels?

By Faeza
15 July 2016


Thousands of South Africans express their anger and annoyance at taxi drivers daily.

But a closer listen to what commuters complain about will show that it's not really taxi drivers that are driving everyone up the wall.


Whether you’re waiting on the side of the road in the blistering heat or waiting in a winding queue, it always seems like it takes forever for the right taxi to come your way.

By the time you’re squeezed into the taxi, you have to deal with counting money or argue about whose fault it is that 50 cents is missing from the driver’s money.

You also have no control over the speed at which the driver is travelling. The driver can stop randomly for petrol or to talk to a driver in the next lane.

For millions of South Africans, there's no other choice but to deal with the disrespect, discomfort and inconvenience of being a taxi commuter.


The aggressive stickers and the attitude passengers generally expect from drivers make it impossible tocommunicate maturely.

These stickers scream instructions like "only pigs eat in a taxi" and "even if you are late, this taxi is always on time." It's a helpless feeling.


Phindile Khumalo takes the taxi to work every day and uses it to get around on the weekends.

“My parents don’t have a car either so this is how our family gets

around," she says, adding, "I avoid talking to taxi drivers for any reason.

I don’t want to be shouted at."


Mthembeni Zondi has been a taxi driver for over 10 years. He says taxi drivers are not law unto themselves.

Just like everyone has a manager and boss, they report to taxi owners, who in turn report to taxi associations.

“People don’t know that the taxi owner’s information is on the taxi for a reason. If a driver has mistreated you or you have had a car accident in which a taxi was involved, you

should report to the owner. "

He adds, "When you have a problem with a waitress, you ask for the manager. When you have a problem with a taxi driver, you speak to the taxi owner."


Mthembeni doesn’t deny that he has been rude to passengers.

“People treat us like we aren’t even human.

There is no respectful way to respond to someone who starts talking to you without so much as a greeting, or someone who refers to you as umageza empompini (one

who washes under a tap)."

"That person has already set the tone for our interaction and chosen that we will treat each other with disrespect."

Mthembeni says that he doesn’t expect the relationship between drivers and passengers to change.

“Nurses, cashiers and waiters face the same problems. We are look down on. We work difficult and long shifts.

We’re here to provide a service and we also have our own problems.

If people treated us with a little more kindness and let us do what we get paid for, the taxi ride would be much more pleasant,” he says.