LETTER | Not all taxi drivers are bad guys, this one is a hero even when I smashed his van

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My guardian angel, Linda Ntba
My guardian angel, Linda Ntba
Margaret Pretorius

 • Wheels24 reader Margaret Pretorius was a smash-and-grab victim earlier in July.

 • Her instincts made her drive off, and ended up smashing into a taxi.

 • The taxi driver actually became her hero, and she shares their story.

 • For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24

Most times, motorists are not the biggest fans of taxi drivers. And, it's probably safe to say the are the most unliked people in the country. Wheels24 reader Margaret Pretorius proves that not all taxi drivers are bad guys, and some of them are the most incredible human beings. Meet Linda Ntaba, who was so kind to her, even after she smashed into his taxi and put him out of work for some time. This is her story...

On probably one of the coldest mornings in Gauteng, Friday, 23 July, I woke up, just worried about being dressed warm enough for my day ahead. I woke up at 04:30, got dressed, made coffee and packed a little 'lunch bag' with still and sparkling water, coconut yoghurt, vitamins, collagen, and my coffee mug for the road. I got in the car, placed my laptop at the back under the seat, my handbag back under my seat, and the lunch bag on the passenger seat. Listening to music and excited to go to work, as we're in events and things have been very quiet. 

As I approached the intersection on the outskirts of Fourways, I noticed a few cars, there are currently roadworks, and the intersections are pretty chaotic because the flow is not marked that well, and it is dark with no working lights. 

vehicle crime
The smashed window on my bakkie

I should probably not say this out loud, but I usually don't stop at this intersection because I don't really feel safe there, but this day there was a car in front of me that had stopped. I was still thinking, 'can he just drive?', and then I saw movement to the left-rear of my bakkie and in seconds a loud smash. 

He grabbed was trying to grab whatever he could on the passenger seat, and I grabbed my lunch bag back. Then, he reached for the floor, and I realised he is getting into my car and the next place he is probably going to go for is my centre console. So I decided to put foot. 

Luckily the car in front of me pulled away, and there was nothing directly in front of me; I then identified a line between a taxi and a car approaching from the front, with the hope that the smash-and-grab guy would jump out and that's precisely what happened just before the impact...

I hit a taxi with the left front of my bakkie; obviously, in shock, I raced away to look for a safe spot to stop. I stopped at the closest fuelling station, where I inspected the damage, made sure my vehicle was drivable and gathered my thoughts. 

I then decided I can't just go to the police station, so I returned to the scene, still a bit nervous. I approached the intersection, it was so quiet there, only glass and bumper pieces, and I spotted the taxi in the distance. When the taxi driver saw me, he screamed and said I should stop. I flagged the taxi driver to follow me to the garage as it didn't feel safe to stop there. 

linda ntba
The scene of the crash.

And this is where my 06:00 Guardian Angel story starts.

The taxi driver's name is Linda Ntaba. He is a superhuman with a super big heart. In short, in my attempt to get the smash-and-grab thief (or should I call him, smash-and-hold-on guy) out of my bakkie, I decided to drive off, and in doing this at a busy intersection, I had to dodge cars and unfortunately didn't miss Linda's taxi. 

Just before impact, the thief eventually released his grip - just in time, I must add. When I returned to the accident scene, it was a bit lighter at that time. The only vehicle there was a taxi. Yes, it was the one I hit (luckily, nobody was hurt!). 

Do you have a feel good motoring news story you'd like to share and have published on Wheels24? Please email the motoring editor Janine Van der Post, here.

Still too scared to stop, I showed Linda to follow me to the fueling station. When we arrived there, I expected a rude, arrogant person, but to my surprise, it was the opposite. He was the most friendly, helpful, understanding guy ever; I don't think he is human! 

He then explained what happened after I hit his taxi: he and the three passengers (security guards) jumped out and chased the guy who tried to smash and grab my bakkie. They couldn't catch him, but it sounds like they found out where he lives. When they returned to the taxi, all their personal belongings were stolen. 

taxi smash
Linda Ntba's damaged minivan.

How is this even fair? Good deeds should be rewarded, but it never seems that way. After a quick chat about what happened and inspecting the damages on both vehicles, he requested that I follow him to where they store their taxi's. Linda needed me to explain to his boss what happened as he would definitely not believe Linda (we couldn't call his boss because his phone was stolen and he didn't know the number by heart). 

This is another sad point as we generalise a lot. Yes, I was also hesitant to follow a taxi driver, so I'm also guilty of this point. Nevertheless, I went there and explained, with no issues, not a second of feeling unsafe. We also chatted and what I found out was quite eye-opening: each day Linda's vehicle is standing, he doesn't get an income. He shuttles 200 people per day with his taxi. So, in short, he is going to lose a lot of income because of me. 

So why am I telling you all of this? Because I want to show Linda that good deeds do get rewarded and not punished as the saying goes ("No good deed goes unpunished - Oscar Wilde". 

What am I going to do about this? I already bought Linda a new phone give him what I can. I also know Linda deserves a better job, if anyone needs a driver, please keep him in mind; you won't regret having him on your team! 

Would you mind getting in touch if you would like to help me help Linda? - Please click on the link to email Margaret Pretorius.

These are the crucial lessons learned from this event:

10 things I learned
1. Don't put anything on your passenger seat even if it's not valuable (even though the policeman said these guys just smash the windows and don't even look, it's the luck of the draw for them.)

2. Don't think you're the only one that went through this (I was the third person at the exact intersection that morning. Start of Cedar Road (R114/R552 Intersection).

3. Don't stop too close to the car in front of you; leave space for you to be able to react, and not worry that you crash into a car (I would suggest three car spaces to get away safely, or at least react).

4. I was lucky to meet the friendliest taxi driver, never generalise.

5. Look around when you stop, be aware of the environment and people standing around.

6. I now have pepper spray, not sure if it would have helped, but the next day I drove my husband's vehicle, and it cut out, and I realised I have nothing to protect myself with.

7. Care for people, no matter who they are.

8. Change something negative into something positive; it's in your hands how you react (even though it's frustrating to sort out the insurance and admin).

9. Change the perception: "No good deed goes unpunished" - to what it should be "No good deed goes unrewarded".

10. Attend an anti-hijacking course. NHPA Training Academy has the best course in Johannesburg. If I didn't arrange this for one of my women's day events, I probably wouldn't have reacted the way I did.

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