Lindiwe Shikoena a female cab driver getting ready for her 22 hour shift. She stops in front of her front door, kneels down and places her hands together and says “thank you lord for another day, protect me and my family“. This is her everyday spiritual routine.
She then walks towards the old Toyota car, walks around it and says “oh thank you god it’s okay.” With a relieved face, she starts the car, and let it idle .Her usual passengers are students and tourist. As she drives to the Cab spot in front of Cape Town station. She sits and waits, watching birds fly pass.
A confused looking tourist walks towards her, she then asks ‘hello, is there anything, I can help you with? Are you looking for a place?’
“Yes, could you please take me to the Water front”, she says then hands her the metred amount, and gets out.
As Lindiwe patiently waits, the sun starts to set and says “ only three trips today “ she then starts to count the money , hides a few notes under the seats ,then drives down the street and parks behind 2 other cabs .
By making so little money a day,” it makes me wonder why I didn’t just give up, when I struggled getting taxi licence.”
When her father died, he left the car to his only daughter. At that moment she had two kids and working as a house cleaner. “I had a choice, I could either sell the car, or think about the future, because as they say, money doesn’t last forever “
Lots of research was required before she could start driving.” Many of the Cab drivers told me, to get a taxi licence. I then consulted with other private cab drivers and then with government.’’ She was sent back and told to get a licence first.
After 5 months, Lindiwe finally received her licence .She then called in a lady named Dana Van Wyk at the taxi registration offices in Cape Town to speak to her about registering the car on her name.
Dana Van Wyk says “Metred taxis are graded in 3 different ways, and licences are only offered to those who qualify and pass these tests. Grade vehicles should not be more than 5 years or 8 years and other Features of car, is determined by the grading bored. “
Diana adds ‘’after completing a list of documents and permits at the municipality, you will have to register your business with SARS ‘.
With all these steps you will have to follow Lindiwe has almost waited a year before she could start driving.
Kaitlin Scotch a regular passenger of Lindiwe cabs services takes the cab at 7 am every day to her college. She’s a transferred student from London and she enjoys Lindiwe early morning conversation. “I like the way she sings when we have nothing to say to each other “says Kaitlin
Being a female cab driver is hard. “When people doesn’t want to pay, they tell me fuck off and gets out, what can I do, I can’t go after them and leave my car standing there.” When people refuse to pay, she wishes she could beat them up.
There are immoral moments in this industry she says, like when young people come from clubs, vomiting, drunkenness and having sex in the back seat. She has seen it all. But she said to herself that she wouldn’t get emotionally involved because if she gets too attached and wants to act like a mother. She wouldn’t make any money. ‘You soon get to learn how to work with your passengers’ she says.
But this job also brings light and laughter into her life. A life of a cab driver is like a ministry. Passengers would climb in and tell her about their life. They share intimacies that no-one would dare share with any other strangers .She encountered people whose lives amazed her , made her laugh and cry . But none of those are like the one she met years back an unforgettable drive.
The foreign Girl in search of her father that was a South African and she was the driver all the way.
It gave her a sense of hope in life, to never give up. “If you know you can, anything’s possible, just believe and that is what that girl taught me .After I put her down, saying it’s impossible to find your father in this big city.”
First they arrived at this shebeen in Guguletu, the sun was at its brightest. The girl was amazed by the sweaty dark of complexion men walking around, she then asked, is this how a township looks .Lindiwe laughed and said “yes, welcome to South Africa Mam.”
She stepped out of the cab. All eyes were on her, as she pulled out a photograph and asked people if they knew who that man was, they didn’t seem to understand her. She then called Lindiwe and said “Could you perhaps explain to them, who I am looking for and show them this photograph that I have of him.’’ Lindiwe did exactly what she asked but no-one could give her any clues of his where about. All she had was a list of places that he might be at and a picture.
Next on her list was an address that they typed into the GPS and it took them to the strangest house that Lindiwe has ever seen. She was a bit scared and asked Lindiwe to go with her, they knocked on the door after a long pause an elderly woman open up and then the girl asked her if she knew who this man was.
She smiled and said “I know him; He’s a very good man.”
How you know him, the girl replied.
“He is my gardener, dear child .He went out for a while and he stays in my backyard”, the old lady said.
“I will wait.” she said.
“Then come inside girls,” the elderly women replied.
Lindiwe unfortunately couldn’t stay any longer to find out the rest of the story, but the girl left a mark in her heart.
Lindiwe has worked herself up in this business and thinks about partnering up with other cab agencies.