We are all taxi drivers now

2010-06-07 11:45
Marianne Thamm
It began on Tuesday last week when two young men on a scooter kicked in my back left passenger door as I waited to turn right into street in Cape Town.

Why they did it, I’ll never know. But the driver and his pillion passenger sped off grinning malevolently like Heath Ledger’s The Joker in The Dark Knight, as they bobbed and wove their way between the bumper-to-bumper early morning traffic on Main Road, Rondebosch.

I have been thinking about what could have gone through the driver’s mind. Perhaps he was irritated that I had stopped to turn right and was waiting for oncoming traffic to clear and that he had to wait?

Maybe he just didn’t like my car. I drive…I grey VW Chico and I know it really pisses off some 4x4 drivers who treat entry-level vehicles the same way politicians do voters between elections.

So, the bike skollies just thought it was OK to unleash their aggression on my back door. I’ve told the cops who say they can’t do very much without a registration number.

On the same day on the N2 two tour busses came thundering down the fast lane in the rain doing at least 130km and churning up an impressive spray. The little sticker on the back indicating that the driver is not allowed to exceed 100km is there just for decoration we take it.

Now if either of those busses had had to brake suddenly there is no doubt they would have overturned or slammed into a number of other vehicles on the road.

And then a day later I froze as I heard the familiar screech of tyres and that dull, loud thud of steel hitting something stationary. Outside my house a copper-coloured Renault had wrapped its bonnet around a tree.

The driver was unhurt but had been speeding according to the other driver who narrowly escaped getting hit. And this down an AVENUE with a 60km speed limit where people walk their dogs and children ride their bicycles.

In his 2007 book, A Country At War With Itself, criminologist Anthony Altbeker, explores why some people in this country turn to crime and others not.

He uses the example of the introvert and the extrovert on a dance floor at a party noting that it only takes one or two extroverts to get the party started and for some of the introverts to start joining in.

Now taxi drivers are the extroverts on our roads, well at least in the Western Cape. They generally do as they please when there is no obvious law enforcement in sight.

Most ordinary motorists will have a horror story about speeding taxis passing on the left shoulder, taxis jumping traffic lights, taxis stopping on highways without indicating, taxis that bully their way through traffic jams.

This culture of lawlessness has in many ways become our national driving culture. The unacceptably high number of road accidents and the R45 million it apparently costs each year is evidence of this.

You would imagine that there would be a measure of self-preservation at work in the way you decide to drive or behave when you are in a vehicle. But something atavistic and visceral seems to happen to us on the roads, we don’t think too deeply, we act on impulse, aggression and emotion. And it’s killing more and more of us every year.

Next year I suspect a whole bunch of visitors will be arriving on our shores for the Fifa Word Cup. I think we’d better install driver orientation centres at every port of arrival where we can show visitors a short film that will help them deal with the homicidal maniacs we have become.



  • Anne S - 2009-11-11 09:30

    Very good article!!!!! I had a similar experience where a African (black) bumped into my car. Fortunately I ALWAYS have my cell with me and it has a built in lens. I immediately took a picture of the person's registration number. I did not argue with him and drove to the CLOSEST police station where I filed a charge against him. They won't mess with a granny and her low budget car!!!!! To all woman out there especially our senior ladies HAVE YOUR CELL WITH YOU AND MAKE SURE THAT YOU KNOW HOW TO USE TECHNOLOGY TO CAPTURE THE SITUATION.

  • Marc - 2009-11-11 10:53

    S.Africans do not know how to drive.End of

  • cuba -@Anne S - 2009-11-11 11:34

    some sound advice ma'am and good article Marianne

  • Dave - 2009-11-11 11:37

    Good piece... I am reminded of two days ago when i was nearly run off the road by a government cavalcade... As usual the prevailing attitudes are set right the very top ... whether its corruption or lawlessness

  • KCH - 2009-11-11 11:52

    The other day I was cycling to work.. As I sometimes do.. I was on a pedestrian dirt track when low and behold a taxi came screaming up the track in an attempt to bypass track. The track is fairly narrow with a storm drain on one side and a wall on the other. So I had no where to go so I stood my ground the taxi driver stopped and nudged my front tyre.. I had to jump into the storm drain with my bike or I am pretty sure the taxi would have driven over me.. Went to the cops they said there is nothing the can do?? I am sick of it get taxis of the road and start replacing them with government run buses

  • Anna - 2009-11-11 11:56

    I have to agree that things are quite aggressive here on the roads. I have lived and driven in several countries and this is definitely the wildest. By the way, do they check on the driver's exam to see if people know how to indicate? Just wondering!

  • fletcher - 2009-11-11 11:58

    @Anne S, do you have to tell us if the guy was black,.....honestly, why does everything else have to end up there, please do not spoil the comment section of this article with your statements. This article talks about ho each and everyone of us, have become bad drivers, and it is very true to a certain extent as i believe in order for us to change what happens n the roads, each and everyone one of us should change our atitudes, and be more aware that we are not the only ones on the road

  • Gavin - 2009-11-11 11:59

    I have the right product to end all this lawlessness on our roads. Contact me and find out how and what.

  • jason - 2009-11-11 12:06

    You really, really need to see how the savages drive in Northriding and Allandale.

  • SOUTHAFICAN - 2009-11-11 12:08

    We all have to drive for all the other people on the road. I live in Pinetown and work on the Bluff and have to travel on the M7. The amount of trucks on that stretch of road is horrendous. We travel in 3 lanes, but if the trucks are pulling a heavier load in front no problem for the other trucks to overtake them into all three lanes bring everyone to a virtual halt. I was hit by a petrol tanker last year October and my car written off. When I went to report the accident, the police officer on duty told me not to bother to open a case of negligent and reckless driving charge against him because he would only get a slap on the wrist. Needless to say, I did lay a charge on a day that I thought he would not be on duty. It has been a year and still waiting to go to court. The Detective handling the case couldn't get the driver to come to Durban to lay a statement. Now I am being asked for the photographs that were taken by the SAPS on the scene. It's not just our drivers but the SAPS who just don't give a toss - after all WE, THE TAX PAYER PAYS THEIR SALARY AND HAVE NO NEED TO EARN IT!!!!!!!!!!!

  • S @ Anne S - 2009-11-11 12:09

    LOL, not only did you reveal yourself as a homophobe yesterday, but today as a racist. Thanks for your insightful racial profiling - pray tell, did the African (black)look suspiciously the same as all the other Africans (blacks)?

  • fedup - 2009-11-11 12:16

    KCH hahahaha you just made my day man, cant stop laughing. you cant be very bright if you think you'll compete with a taxi man lol, even in my double cab i dont dream of it, you on a bike? hahahaha eeiisshh I LOVE SA man

  • chucky - 2009-11-11 12:23

    If you can't beat them, join them...

  • Anne S @ S fletcher - 2009-11-11 12:28

    I WAS STATING A FACT. Mentioning facts is now considered racist? Please get a life. Perhaps you should ask that the crime stats of SA be broken down by ethnic group OR is that now racist AGAIN??? Stay with the article people.

  • Jo - 2009-11-11 12:28

    You know I have to give the taxi drivers some credit, at least they say thank you when you let them in the traffic - far more than I can say for the majority of other drivers in JHB!!!

  • Alison - 2009-11-11 12:30

    @Jason. It's like the Wild West, isn't it?

  • Jonathan - 2009-11-11 12:33

    How it Anne S being a racist by saying that the person that hit her is black?? This f*cking country and its "racist" card.

  • Ed Sims - 2009-11-11 12:33

    RSA is the new Wild West - traffic behaviour is a mirror of our society. Many of us become ferral on the roads, morphing from nice guys to gangsta muthaphukkers in seconds. In the 3 kms from home to the closest major centre, guaranteed I will be effing & blinding every time - forget any other quotas, it's the asshole quota that's rising daily without any intervention or manipulation of any kind.

  • fullmoon - 2009-11-11 12:49

    it is because of the lawless taxi drivers, whom are black..not? that the above article was written, you liberal f@@ks

  • Michelle - 2009-11-11 12:51

    @ Fletcher & S, I'm so sick of this why can't she say the criminal was black????? Oops sorry i forgot in this country you are only allowed to say the colour of the person if they were white or did something good. If it's a black your'e not allowed to say that because then you are called a racist!!!!!!!!! WHATEVER

  • Lewis - 2009-11-11 12:59

    Oh? Arent we allowed to mention race when the person in question is black? Funny that....the media ALWAYS mention race when the perpetrator is white. The chips on the shoulders......

  • wake up S & cuba - 2009-11-11 13:07

    Why not say it's a black? How many white taxis drivers have p!ssed you off lately? You wouldn't have made such a fuss if she said it was a white person. You are the racists.

  • Shatzie - 2009-11-11 13:22

    I completely agree. There is total disregard for traffic laws and unfortunately its not only taxi drivers at fault anymore. A little more couresty and patience is definately required. Oh, and where have all the indicators gone?

  • Eddie - 2009-11-11 13:27

    Excellent article. The great concern is the culture that was created! Can we undo it?

    And now we wonder why crime is so foremost today?

  • AncientGeek - 2009-11-11 13:27

    Well they see taxis getting away with it so they think, if you can't beat them join them. Many of our highways jams are caused by people going as far as they can in the fast lane and cutting into the offramp at the last minute. Only a few are taxis. Speed cameras are good and well, but they only solve a small part of the problem. We need visible policing on our roads. Be mindful of your road manners, copying taxis leads to the Dark Side.

  • notdumb @ flether & S - 2009-11-11 13:27

    All taxi drivers are black and they are the main cause of all the chaos on our roads. How many innocent lives were stolen because of these idiots??

  • Grunge Brother @Fletcher - 2009-11-11 13:28

    So what's wrong with saying someone's black? Is it a crime? Are you afraid of the dark? Call a spade a spade and get done with it. Why be shy?
    Somewhere in the newspapers today they show a photo of a white guy about to steal a CCTV camera. Do you think the photo would have been published if the man was black? Why or why not?
    Get real and stop bowing to political correctness as the new god.

  • Qaqadekile - 2009-11-11 13:29

    Yes, South African drivers are in the league of their own.We are aggressive, reckless ,arrogant on the roads,the accident rates are a proof of these attributes.Enforcement is weak hence the perpetual offenders.I feel sorry for our visitors next year,rest assured they will be
    victims of our road carnage.

  • liezl - 2009-11-11 13:39

    Last Friday I was travelling on the Main Road in Salt River. I stop at a red robot only to see a young delivery man (or something) ignore the red light, sped on through and narrowly miss an elderly lady that was walking across the road. Now I am confused - red means stop yes?

  • Vuyo - 2009-11-11 13:41

    Indeed we are,Marianne. I live near Fourways, JHb and anyone can tell you how bad the traffic is. Yesterday, while stading at a robot first one car, then several others suddenly pulled out of the "queue" and came screeching up on my left (in the turning lane)and attempted to force their way back in line. Gobsmacked wouldn't describe me - what the hell is going on?

  • MichV @ S & Anne S - 2009-11-11 14:02

    Well spotted S. I was reading the horrible comments by Anne S on the article about same sex marriages a few hours ago and I was appalled. It is now clear that Anne S is just really a very nasty person.

  • Raymond - 2009-11-11 14:06

    A well written and truthfull article.YES,the Taxis,government and municipal vehicles are a disgrace on the road and Yes it has rubbed off on other motorists.This article is about TAXIS-WHAT COLOUR ARE THE TAXI DRIVERS-pink?Our roads are dangerous,like the rest of the country,there is no law and order on the roads.

  • Al - 2009-11-11 14:10

    I had similar problem with taxi drivers (I'm defensive type of driver) while driving my small car so I got Defender and guess what I just point my bull bar at them and they stop with their nonsense in a second.

  • Andy - 2009-11-11 14:17

    The driving standards in SA are appalling! It makes no difference if it's a taxi or not, as generally eveyone just does as they please on the roads and to hell with the other road users. Road markings mean nothing, as do red traffic lights and as for traffic circles, few seem to know what they are or how to behave when encountering them. The situation will never improve whilst there is no one competent enough or willing to enforce the traffic laws. It's too easy to sit behind a speed camera under a shady tree and issue tickets! The traffic police need to be out there in unmarked vehicles driving amongst the madness that characterises our roads and actually stop people who are seen to be breaking the law.

  • Steve - 2009-11-11 14:19

    "They generally do as they please when there is no obvious law enforcement in sight. "

    Come to jhb. Here the cops let the taxis through and play stop the white man.

  • Another Victim - 2009-11-11 14:20

    I have recently been unfortunate enough to be hit by a taxi who was unable to stop while I was waiting at a RED robot. He looked completely disinterested when I got his details and didn't bother to get mine. He obviously was not intending to report the incident and had no response when I asked him whether he had insurance. Surely the government need to follow the policy in the UK where it is a criminal offense not to have insurance. This would hurt the taxi owners where it matters. In their pockets! They would have rising insurance premiums as each accident was settled and would surely as a matter of good business advise their drivers to behave more responsibly.

  • Marga - 2009-11-11 14:22

    I totally agree on the fact that all drivers have now started to follow the extremely bad example set by the taxi drivers. I frequently get drivers flashing their lights at me when I stop completely (as I am required to do by law) at a stop street.

  • Me @ Anne - 2009-11-11 14:23

    Really now, what's the relevance of race in this.You are a hopeless racist, do us a favour and never ever bring your nonsense to a public stage - the more you try to justify your pure racism the more you put your sanity into question.Get lost please!

  • cuba -@wake up - 2009-11-11 14:23

    it seems you misread my post, i don't particularly care if she mentioned the race of the driver, and i agreed with the advice she gave about using one's camera phone to take photos of the accident scene.

    don't worry about it, accidents do happen mate

  • Iona - 2009-11-11 14:37

    @fletcher - the colourless world according to you is not necessarily the world according to Anne S and she has every right to give us the facts of her encounter as she experienced them. If he was black, he was black, NOT green or lilac, and you don't have to protect someone you don't even know or try to paint him another colour to satisfy your self-righteous aspirations. If you wish to be colour blind then that's your business, but it's not your business to object to the truth. In my humble opinion I would venture to say that the majority of taxi drivers in this country fall into the racial category beginning with the letter 'b' and, if I can stick my neck out even further, it is this road-user category that cause the majority of chaos and unhappiness on the road. It's no maybe that the five different taxis I saw breaking rules on the road this morning were all driven by black 'drivers' (see, I said drivers instead of "unskilled homicidal maniacs") and as much as this galls you it is the truth! You may have become a bad driver, by your own admission, but I certainly haven't, and neither have any of the other law abiding drivers of ALL colours who just sat in their vehicles and shook their heads. None of us needed your suggested attitude change, or to be more aware that we weren't the only ones on the road - the lawless fools piloting the taxis did! Are you suggesting we should hand out roses to the perpetrators each time laws are broken just so that we can show our collective, non-racial patience, love and tolerance for these idiots? I suggest not. Come, give us another sanitised solution from your colourless book of great ideas ...

  • Bonita - 2009-11-11 14:45

    @ Anne S. What has the driver's race got to do with anything ... sigh ...

  • lulu - 2009-11-11 14:47

    I have to turn under the bridge in pinetown to turn up fields hill every morning. and every morning this week without fail the robots are conjested with trucks and taxi's that no one coming off fields hill can turn right into richmond road....why are there not traffic officials at theses stops in the morning all it is is 30 min to an hour to stand there and make sure these taxi and truck drives obey the rules. my worst is that there are yellow lines which mean keep clear and it's always blocked

  • Andy - 2009-11-11 15:07

    I once had an interesting dicussion with my father on this subject - complaining about taxi drivers pushing in etc. He made a very good point.. In the UK (where we come from - my father and I) we give way to taxi's because ---- they are doing a service to the community, they have many passengers who need to get to their destinations. The single car user should accomodate taxi's. We need to be a little more cognicent of the role these taxis play in our community. The single driver in his big merc is not doing anyone any favours, he/she is wasting energy, contributing to global warming on an inordinate scale and so really has little right to attack the taxi operator who is operating an important and necessary service. I work at the refinery and have to turn right at a traffic light every morning - more often than not it is a taxi that lets me in - hardly ever a single man/woman in a car. WhenI see someone tailgating me, it is never a taxi - it's always a single driver (usually in a BMW). When I see idiots endagering my life by talking on their cell phones and weaving all over the road, it's never a taxi, it's always a single driver - I've checked the numbers - 1 in 5 cars I pass on the way home is busy on their cell phones. I truly believe it is the attitude that we have towards taxis that causes this, if we accomodated them in the same way we do in London, perhaps we'd have more polite taxi operators. I've never experienced road rage from a taxi driver, I've had many experiences of road rage from single drivers (more often than not the ones on the expensive fast cars).

  • Colin - 2009-11-11 15:10

    Why were the guys on the scooter so upset with you? Probably because you weren't using your indicator like most Capetonians.

  • Gatis - 2009-11-11 15:13

    Look at all these sub-inteligent MORONS playing the race card. Does this make me a moronist?

  • S @ Michelle & Grunge Brother - 2009-11-11 15:25

    The fact that the person was black seems conspicuously more important to the commentator than, for example, the make of vehicle he was driving or his perceived attitude towards her - both of which would be more relevant to her comment than the person's race. Why it's racist is because she, presumably like yourselves, believe that saying the driver was black imparts particular meaning - something to the effect of "because he's black, and all black people are dangerous/criminal etc. , he must have been dangerous." It's called stereotyping, a lazy mental habit which is the basis for racism.

  • African (black) - 2009-11-11 15:31

    Well I've had 2 accidents that were caused by 2 reckless Africans (South Africans).I tell you Marianne, I've actually reached the point where I prefer dealing with a taxi driver. I drive on a small road between the Blue Valley Estate and Noordwyk (Midrand);there are just always people who are in a bigger hurry than the rest of us and make sure that they use all kinds of illegal ways to get ahead of everyone.This is done by all kinds of people; male, female, African (black), African (white), African (Indian), African (non South African), everyone. I think what causes this is the number of cars on our roads.

  • mad hatter - 2009-11-11 15:38

    Stats on road accidents and deaths involving taxi drivers please ! I'd like to compare them to other countries public transport stats ? Should be interesting .
    Had to argue with a traffic police officer a couple days ago coz he was driving extrmely recklously without any need or emergency , if there is no accountability then there is only one direction where things will go .

  • Taras Bulba @ S fletcher - 2009-11-11 15:42

    Personally, I believe any person can have whatever criteria why they like/do not like a person. It really depends if the ACT on their preference and cause that person harm.

    You're one of those malicious liberals with still covered sociopath tendencies, I bet. Mind that I don't like you. . .so I guess I'm a sociopathist.

    Anyway, you're drawing facts from a conclusion your oxygen thieving mind drew from an opinion. Did that confuse you, pumpkin?

    You see racism only because you look for it, like a kid sees a monster in the shadows cast by a tree, because he/she is LOOKING for it.

  • robotz - 2009-11-11 15:45

    i go through red robots on a regular basis (after quickly checking for my own safety of course). if a cop stops me, i'll tell them i thought it was legal because i've seen a taxi do it in front of a traffic office and he didn't give a fudge.