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Khaya Dlanga: 'No English', and other taxi tales

Khaya Dlanga

Some ban certain languages, and others hold potentially damaging propositions. But while taxi stories can be horrific, they're always entertaining.

Bree taxi rank, Johannesburg. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Last week I asked people on Twitter to tell me their worst taxi stories. Some were funny, while others were tragic – a friend of mine died from a stray bullet during taxi violence in Mdantsane, Eastern Cape. 

But what was fascinating was how resigned people were to their circumstances. Taxi drivers hold all the power and the passengers are at their mercy. 

But there were also positive stories.

Many black people had some form of a taxi business in their families, which helped them prosper. My uncle did so well with his taxi business that he built a massive house in rural Transkei in the late 1980s. His home could rival any fancy abode in Sandton, and from that, he was able to build himself a shop that put a rival white shop owner in the village out of business.

Here are a few examples of taxi terror stories.

This tweet is a perfect example of a taxi driver keeping you in check. There was a time when the children who went to Model C schools were treated harshly because there was a perception that they thought they were better than everyone else.

Another example of “no English” allowed:

This guy turned on the aircon in the taxi, and the driver’s response was gangster:

For those who are not familiar with being inside a taxi, when you are in the front seat, you become the taxi driver’s accountant. You collect and count money from the other passengers. In this case, one of the taxis didn’t have enough change and this was obviously the only solution:

And then there was a seatbelt incident ...

... and the stolen taxi:

Some women get propositioned by taxi drivers, which works out badly for everyone else:

And the time when everyone in the taxi was arrested ...

... or when the driver abandoned his taxi to avoid metro cops.

Apparently taxi drivers are not too kind if you do not speak a Nguni language. So it is not only that is English forbidden:

And asking the driver to turn down his music is the ultimate rookie mistake:

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