Woman takes on ‘old boys club’

2018-12-06 06:01
As the only female taxi driver in Lwandle and Nomzamo, Zikhona Shologu is comfortable driving commuters and ensuring they safely arrive at their destinations.PHOTO: Velani Ludidi

As the only female taxi driver in Lwandle and Nomzamo, Zikhona Shologu is comfortable driving commuters and ensuring they safely arrive at their destinations.PHOTO: Velani Ludidi

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From behind the steering wheel of her minibus taxi, a Nomzamo woman is challenging the status quo of the area’s male-dominated industry.

As the first and only woman taxi driver in the area, Zikhona Shologu is showing the boys how it must be done. The 27-year-old is living her dreams by ensuring local taxi commuters arrive safely at their destinations.

She was first introduced to driving as a high school learner. “My older brother, who has since passed away, was a taxi driver and he bought his own taxi. I used to drive the taxi around as a high school learner and I enjoyed being behind the steering wheel from the very first moment,” she says.

After obtaining her driver’s licence in 2015, Shologu was determined to join the male-dominated taxi industry. “To gain confidence, I started ranking on weekends only and made the decision to drive full-time at the beginning of this year,” she says, adding that many people doubted her abilities, while her male counterparts did not want her driving faster than them.

“I take this job as I would any other job. I feel like it’s better working here than working anywhere else. There are drivers who say they won’t drive behind a female taxi driver, but I shrug those comments off.”

The mother of two loves driving and she hopes to one day become a professional bus driver. Despite the challenges women in the industry face, Shologu implored women to get behind the wheel and start their careers as minibus taxi drivers.

“I was lucky, I come from a family with a history of driving taxis. For others interested in venturing on this road, they would first need to gain the trust of the taxi owner but it is possible for women with the right attitude,” she related, adding that it is not easy taking on the role of taxi driver.

“Your mind has to be sharp, because a lot happens on the road. You always have to be proactive and avoid being on the traffic officer’s books.”

Fellow taxi driver Thembile Madonono says Shologu is a good driver. “From the outside you would not be able to tell that the taxi is being driven by a woman, until you look inside. She is a nice person, although other drivers do not want her to drive faster than them,” Madonono joked.

Commuter Lubanzi Ngqoshela said there were doubts about Shologu’s capabilities at first. “I have never seen a female driver before, so it was normal for us to doubt her. But she has proven to be a capable and a better driver than some of the male drivers.”

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