Slice of life: God turned my Uno into a Kombi

Mapule Thene (Oupa Nkosi)

Mapule Thene (Oupa Nkosi)

On December 21, I will be turning 59. I was employed, but the company was not doing well. I started baking cookies at home and sold them at work when we were in a process of retrenchments.
My colleagues used to laugh at me but I didn’t care.

Then one day my younger sister, a teacher from Lenasia, suggested that instead of doing nothing — after my kota business failed — I should start transporting her two kids and three kids of a friend. I drive an Uno. I would take them to school in the morning and fetch them in the afternoon.

The business grew. I took kids from grades R, 1, 2 and 3 but when they got to grade 4, it would get challenging. Because of their height and size, I would find alternative transport for them. The other challenge was paying a monthly fee to the transport association operating in schools.

I was not making much money then, so I decided to stop. I then decided to only transport kids from crèches around. At first I was worried of how I was going to make it financially. But, by the grace of God, I saw the number of kids increasing. I collect kids at six in the morning for those parents who leave for work and then a second load at 8am. In the afternoon I still take two loads. I remember telling my sister-in-law that I have 20 kids. She was shocked. And she said that they are more than the ones that a Kombi takes. Then it hit me, that God has turned my Uno into a Kombi. — Mapule Thene (58), as told to Oupa Nkosi

Oupa Nkosi

Oupa Nkosi

Oupa Nkosi began taking photos in 1998 with a pawnshop camera, before enrolling at the Market Photography Workshop. He began freelancing after graduating and has since run community projects, won a Bonani Africa award, had his work selected for exhibitions in Zimbabwe and Japan, and been invited to international workshops. He began at the M&G as an intern and is now chief photographer. He also writes features for the paper and lectures at his alma mater. Read more from Oupa Nkosi

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