Taxi owner has ‘thick skin’

Xoliswa Ndlazilwana, a female taxi owner, is disputing the notion that the taxi industry is for men only.

“Gone are the days when women were marginalised in the industry.”

Ndlazilwana, who owns three mini-bus taxis and an Avanza, said women must stand firm and fight for their positions.

“The days that women [belong in] the kitchen are over. We have a right to work wherever we want. The perception that the taxi owners are only men is no longer relevant these days.”

She emphasised that for one to be in the industry, they must have a thick skin.

“There are men who still don’t want to be told by woman even if a woman is raising a valid point. Some of them are bullying us in an effort to intimidate us,” she said.

Ndlazilwana said she joined the industry in 2001 after she had been retrenched from the hotel she was working at for many years.

“For me, having taxis is a dream come true. I used to say to my colleagues while I was still working that my soul won’t relax if I died without owning a taxi. They used to laugh at me thinking that I was just joking. I started with three Cressidas. Later, I changed them and bought four Avanzas, working locally.

“In 2010 I bought a taxi and joined the rank. Now I have three taxis, ferrying people between Nyanga, Elsies River and the Parow route, including [in] the Avanza,” she said, adding there are about five women taxi owners on their route.

She said Law Enforcement officers were their “main challenge”, “harassing” their taxis all the time.

“Traffic officers are always on our case. If they find a crack in the windscreen or the tyres are not in good condition, they will take the licence disc, instead of giving the driver a fine.

“And the fines are too high because if they impound the taxi for the first time, they ask for a huge amount, and even higher the second time around.”