Cape Town's dancing taxi guardjie on the move

2017-10-06 07:17
Nadeem 'Diempie' Swartz. (Tammy Petersen)

Nadeem 'Diempie' Swartz. (Tammy Petersen)

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Cape Town - It's not just congestion bringing Cape Town's notorious morning traffic to a standstill.

Nadeem Diempie Swartz, a taxi guardjie from Hanover Park, has become a hit with commuters and motorists alike as he shows off a new sequence of moves every day to ease frustration as vehicles slowly crawl into the city bowl.

Videos featuring the charismatic sliding door operator have been viewed more than 250 000 times on Facebook, with his newfound fans eager to catch a seat in his four-wheeled "headquarters".

Whether hanging from an open minibus taxi door or walking alongside the slow moving traffic, the 27-year-old father of one gets hoots of appreciation and applause from commuters as he asks the taxi driver to turn up the music so that he can entertain the masses.

"I just want to make people happy and get their day off to a pleasant start. Everyone looks so angry in the morning," he says as he waits for the taxi to fill up on the Cape Town station deck.

READ: 5 linked to Johannesburg taxi rapes due to appear in court

Swartz has been charming commuters for the last seven years and is a familiar face on the taxi routes in Athlone, Manenberg, Salt River, Woodstock and Mowbray.

"People think it's easy being a taxi guard, but it's hard work. You have to charm people, open and close the door and your maths skills must be on point," he explains.

But his favourite part of the job is providing entertainment, which is what made him a social media hit.

His first video was recorded in June, when the taxi was in the middle of bumper to bumper traffic on the N2.

"The road was hectic. Passengers were moaning, asking when the taxi was going to move because they were going to be late for work. It worked on my nerves.

"I just decided to ask the driver to turn it up; I opened the door and started to dance. I didn't know these moves would make me famous."

READ: 53 arrested during Cape Town taxi strike chaos

Dancing is in his blood, he says. His father has been involved in the minstrels for years, and Swartz is also a member of the well-known Pennsylvanians troupe.

His celebrity status even helped his driver out of a traffic fine on Thursday, when a law enforcement officer warned them they were parking illegally.

A few minutes of gyrating, prancing and a twirl or two and laughing officers were on their way, warning the two not to park there again.

"People recognise me everywhere I go. Sometimes I tell them they've got the wrong person because everyone wants a selfie or to make a video. It's tiring being famous," he jokes.

Driver Ashraf Nathan says Swartz's moves are good for business.

"People are eager to get in the taxi when they see Diempie. Everyone wants to get in," he says.

"There is never a dull moment on a trip with him. As jy in 'n blind mood is, maak hy jou sommer gou smile [If you're in a bad mood, he'll quickly make you smile]."

Nadeem 'Diempie' Swartz. has been charming commuters for the last seven years. (Tammy Petersen)

Swartz has been assisting Nathan for the past three weeks as his usual driver is on holiday in Taiwan.

"There's definitely been an increase in the number of bums on my seats, and it's all because of him. He is a pleasure to work with. When I pick him up in the morning at 06:00, he is already in this jolly mood. It's infectious."

READ: Public transport to maintain 'regular schedules' in CT amid Cosatu march

Swartz says while his job may not be a fancy one, he loves what he does.

"I like working with people and making them feel happy. A good guardjie makes the passengers forget how long the trip is by keeping them entertained. They will remember you and come back, even if it's just for the jokes."

Commuter Inshaaf Solomon, 24, says she would gladly pay extra to cover her trip and the free performance from 'Diempie'.

"He makes my mornings. I always keep an eye out for his van and if I am early, I will let the taxis pass so that I can get in with him.  He jols so lekker! [He dances so well!]" the call centre agent laughs.

"Driving with him is a pleasure. He is funny and a nice guy. And he always gives the right change."

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