African shoestrings – South Africa Day Thirty – Cape Town

What was in regular service were the minibus taxis. If you have being paying attention you’d remember that I’ve mentioned these before.
These are generally run by black or more often or not in Cape Town, coloured South Africans and are mostly used by both these groups of people. They are of course found in almost any third world country in the world but they are particularly popular on the African continent.
At one time a white South African wouldn’t be seen dead on a minibus largely because there were restrictions on where they could operate but also because they had the Merc or BMW and didn’t need to use such transportation. Realistically I suppose a lot of them probably felt unsafe especially in some areas like the suburbs of J’burg. Except for some areas, multicultural Cape Town is considered a lot safer than J’burg and it’s now not unusual to see white travelers on these minibuses.

We didn’t know all this at the time, so when Andre told us that the best way to get into town was via minibus along the main street, it was with some apprehension that we waved down the first minibus that came along. We were the only whites in this crowded bus but none paid us any attention except the fare collector who grunted something at us that the guy sitting next to us interpreted as “that’ll be R2 each please”.

In one of these travel guides that focus on daredevil activities, like visiting war zones and terrorist training camps for kicks, I once read a list of all the most dangerous activities in the world. Riding in a minibus was way up there with swimming with crocodiles, bounty hunting and demonstrating in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

This little tidbit of information flooded back to me as this sardine packed minibus swerved at breakneck speed around slower vehicles travelling in both directions before coming to a screeching stop to pick up any new or potentially new passengers that could be crammed in horizontally into all that air space above us.

We arrived safe and sound in the densely populated main minibus rank above the train station. People were everywhere, either being crammed in, waiting or like us shakily getting out. We had survived!

A Mini Van 'depot' in South Africa. Mini Vans are the most popular form of public transport in the urban areas of South Africa.

A Mini Van ‘depot’ in South Africa. Mini Vans are the most popular form of public transport in the urban areas of South Africa.

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