|Togetherness and his taxi
Here's a little South African story for you guys overseas, just in case you forget about our wonderful all-powerful taxi drivers who own the road.Togetherness Tshabalala jinks his High Impact African Culling Equipment (HiAce for short), with BMW hub-caps through the rush-hour traffic, occasionally using the pavement (sidewalk) to increase productivity.
Togetherness is a confident man with high spirits, as evidenced by the stickers on his rear window: "GOD LOVES TAXI-DRIVERS" and "AVOID CONSTIPATION - TRAVEL BY TAXI".
On the front of his taxi, between a large dent which, ominously, is in the shape of a large traffic cop, and the holes from a small spray of bullets, is a lurid notice reading: "JUKSKEI PARK EXPRESS INAUGURAL FLIGHT". Using the word 'flight' is Togetherness' own little personal joke. What we are witnessing is the inaugural leg of what is hopefully to become a daily service between Jukskei Park and Johannesburg - a 25 km journey which takes 10 minutes - less if the pavements are open.
The percussion waves from Togetherness' powerful radio ('organised' from a BMW Z3) pushes back the early mist. He is playing Boom Shaka's latest low frequency, 120 Db hit (How low can we go?) He hoots as he drives. Togetherness hoots (toots the horn) at anything he sees - including trees - as is the custom of his people. On board the taxi are sixteen white people. They do not come whiter than this. They are Omo white. They were not born white. No, their pallor is due to fear and stark terror.
Take John Mleka. Never in his life has he done 0 to 100 km/h in six seconds - especially not in heavy traffic. Denise Mtha's colour has changed from green-black to a sort of waxen ivory as quickly as the last traffic light had changed to red. (A colour that traditionally prompts taxi drivers to make even more haste.) Togetherness regularly looks over his shoulder while driving - even for a full minute - asking passengers their destinations. Elizabeth Mronwo, sitting right at the back, has the opportunity to say:
"Randbag centa" even though she works in Johannesburg. She worries about how she will make her way to the front, but only fleetingly, because the taxi has now reached Randburg and Togetherness has stopped. He has stopped as suddenly as a plane might stop up against a mountain. Now EVERYBODY is at the front in a warm, intimate heap. Elizabeth alights as gracefully as anybody can with one knee locked behind the other. She is vaguely aware of passers-by loosening her clothing and shouting: "Give her air!"
Togetherness bowls happily along Jan Smuts Avenue, overtaking a police BMW that is chasing a getaway car. Then he overtakes the getaway car too, exchanging boisterous greetings with the driver whom he knows. Togetherness is steering with his elbows because he needs his hands free to check the morning's takings and to wave to the girls on the pavement.
He announces: "Ledees and gentlemen, thees is your ceptin. We weel shortly be lending in Johannesbeg. Please make sure your seatbelts are in the upright position and your seats are fastened. Thank you for flying with us. We hope to see you again soon."
John Mleka is gripping the seat in front of him so tightly that he notices his fingertips have gone transparent, as a passing taxi fires a brief burst from an AK 47 in his direction. Togetherness now reaches the city and merges with the in-bound traffic like his ancestors merged with the British at Isandlwana.
He stops at his usual disembarkation point in the middle of an intersection and picks his teeth patiently while people sort out their legs, arms and teeth before groping their way towards a pole around which they can throw their arms. By the time his passengers' eyeballs have settled back in their parent sockets, Togetherness is already halfway back to Jukskei Park with another load of passengers.
|Togetherness puts a Maxi Taxi to the test
And here is the sequel to Togetherness Tshabalala and his 'i-tekkiesi...' The New Togetherness Tshabalala... So much for the government's initiative!
Inevitably, the National Taxi Drivers' Organisation has asked my friend, Togetherness Tshabalala, the demon taxi-driver of Diepsloot, to road-test these new, safer 18 and 35 seater maxi-taxis. The Transport Minister wants these vehicles to replace the notoriously dangerous minibus taxis. Togetherness' report has caused a stir among the manufacturers.
Maxi-taxi road test by Togetherness Tshabalala:
My test shows that the 35-seater holds 157 passengers, at a squeeze, so to speak. The roof managed to support a good three tons of luggage, chickens and building material. This is a big advantage over the minibuses.
Despite a cargo of this magnitude, during my test run to Pietersburg, the vehicle handled well and experienced very few serious accidents. At one time the back assembly became incandescent because the handbrake had been left on. This ignited the petrol tank, but most passengers managed to alight.(Alert readers will spot Togetherness' little pun.)
We managed to repair the bus at the roadside with pieces of corrugated iron and a hammer and resumed our journey. The bus, now reduced to a 26-seater, was in fact now much easier to handle, cornering at speed.
I liked the 18-seater. It can accommodate 77 passengers - nine under the seats and one in the spacious engine compartment (at reduced fare.) It put up an impressive performance on the Soweto route, but only after the electronic speed-governor had been neutralised by striking it with a pipe wrench. This speed control device will not be well accepted. Crawling down the Soweto highway at a governed 60 km/h would certainly be inviting parking tickets as well as hubcap thieves. Talking of which, the wheels in both versions do not take BMW hubcaps - drivers are not going to like this.
The automatic hydraulic door is a big advantage over the minibus' sliding door. If the passengers' appendages are left sticking out, the sliding doors tend to guillotine them off, causing much smarting of the eyes. I was pleased to note that the maxi-taxi's automatic doors, as they swing shut, tend to painlessly compress the passenger-load as opposed to trimming its edges.
Passengers are going to welcome this. Seat belts on all seats. This cuts by one third the number of passengers who are propelled to the front of the vehicle every time the brakes are applied.
A warning: these buses may be safer than combi taxis, but when one is forced to take to the pavements in rush hour, they are decidedly less safe and badly frighten the pedestrians. However, the power-steering does allow one to jink among the traffic lanes without rolling the vehicle, which is a big time-saver.
It was, I must say, rather nice driving a bus with sturdy side-panels which do not flex like lungs when one plays music, and neither do the windows pop out, even when I play my Nine Inch Nails' C.D. with my 2000 watt amplifiers at full volume!
|Togetherness puts a Buffel to the test.
Armscor is calling for tenders for the surplus SANDF Buffels - those tree-flattening, mine-resistant, bullet-proof armoured troop carriers. They can race over hill and dale like anything, and negotiate roads even as potholed as Houghton's without any difficulty.
My friend, Togetherness Tshabalala, the demon taxi driver of Diepsloot, persuaded Armscor to let him test-drive one with a view to converting it into a taxi.
All things considered, the vehicle stood up quite well after a day on the Soweto run even though its designers had never envisaged it being subjected to such rigorous treatment.
The Buffel seats 10 but (to Armscor's amazement) Togetherness managed to squeeze 57 people into one without any of them suffering more than an occasional lapse into unconsciousness. He found the Buffel had superb airconditioning in that it had no roof - just a roll bar.
As Togetherness roared down Jeppe Street and did his usual four-wheel drift into Kazerne taxi rank, a casual observer might have thought an army strike force had arrived. More alert observers would have spotted Togetherness's familiar sticker: DEFEAT CONSTIPATION - TRAVEL BY TAXI.
The windowless Buffel has armoured-plated sides with gun rests. The driver sits in a bullet-proof one-man cab. Hopewell Zwani, Togetherness's rear gunner, was ecstatic about it. For instance, on the N1 through Robertsham, they had passed Thuka Radebe, Togetherness's arch-rival driving his 100-dent Toyota Hi-Ace with BMW hubcaps.
When Thuka saw Togetherness at the wheel of an armoured car his eyeballs left their parent sockets. Thuka fired a couple of friendly shots in Togetherness's direction and was amazed to see the slugs flatten against the glass and slide off as harmlessly as raindrops.
But when a burst of return fire came from the side of Togetherness's strange taxi, Thuka was not amazed, he was gob-smacked - he was so taken aback he went straight through the ARMCO barrier and into Sam Ferreira's vegetable patch for the second time in a week.
The great thing about driving a Buffel, said Togetherness, was that one could travel "as the crow flies" because the vehicle can go through concrete walls, people's gardens and across the bare veld, and it can shoulder aside other traffic. It cut 2km off the Diepsloot route.
And when Togetherness shot through red lights he received enormous respect from cross-traffic.
"I want to buy one," he told me, "but the government is bound to overrule the sale because every taxi owner will want one and the sight of convoys of armoured vehicles roaring in and out of towns will be misinterpreted by tourists.
"In any event I'd be bidding against the heist gangs and even the cops won't be able to outbid those guys."
Togetherness's experience was not wasted, though. Next day his Toyota had a new sign - FULLY AIRCONDITIONED. He had removed the roof and installed roll bars.
|Togetherness goes to AAD2002.
AAD2002 is South Africa's top Aerospace and Defence Industry showcase and as such many top people from goverments and related intrest groups are invited to visit the show. As Togetherness Tshabalala, the demon taxi-driver of Diepsloot, was a test driver for the NTDO, govermunt of the day and ARMSCOR he recently got invited to the show. Here are some of his impressions of the technology on display;
"Eish... my bra. There was many flymachines and other things.. also a nice beertent, but I digress, here is my raport"
AAD2002 overview by Togetherness Tshabalala:
The day started well as we first had "refreshments" on the house at the ARMSCOR stand. After that I proceeded down the line of parked aircraft, dont know how you park an aircraft 'cos I dont see any driveshafts on de weels.
Some of them are very big too, that C130 would make a nice i-tekkiesi for the Gauteng to Ceptown trip at the end of the year. Pity it has no roof rack. Plenty of room for my "sqeeza" Spongiele to go for a ride in the cockpit with me.
I also see they all have plenty of hazard lights, on de roof, on de bottom, on de wingtips, red and white and green and white, i just dont unnastand what side is starbord or port.
Then the airshow proper started, I will just be mentioning some of the hilights 'cos the whole programme took a day! For intrest I have included the program and have put my "notes" in between.
1 All Emergencies And Ground Personnel 2 X Oryx 1 X Alo III Cavalcade 0815 30 Tribute
Eish.. so much noise so early in the morning! (Too much partying at Mamma Moagabe's shebeen lastnight.)
2 28 Sqn / Def Parachute Club Freefall 0900 15 Grand Opening
Dese okies are F)%%$$&^ Nuts! There was nothing wrong with the plane? 3 SAA Her Flight DC4 & DC3 / SAAF Museum DC3 / Naturelink DC3 / Springbok Safaris DC4 Formation Flypast 0915 15 Vintage Civ / SAAF Museum
Aauk.. they say these planes are almost as old as my grandma Grace from Umtata! She is 70! Eish... I wish they built E20's as tough as these.
4 Boeing Stearman Display 0930 10 Civ
This one has canvas wings! Eish!
5 Hawker Hunter Solo Aero Display 0940 10 Fight / Civ
Nice and shiny and BLACK!
6 USAF / F15e Flypasts 0950 10 Fight / Int
Now I am worried! What are the USAF doing here? Better phone my cousin in Harare!
7 Smirnoff Int Aerobatic Team / Pitts Formation Aerobatic 1000 15 Civ
I am impressed! They say dont drink and drive.......
8 Falcon 10 Demo 1015 10 Civ / Int
M'beki's old i-tekkiesi.
9 SAAF Museum, 44 & 41 Sqn’s / Bosbok, Cessna 185, Kudu & Caravan Formo Into Caravan Display 1025 15 SAAF/The Old And The New
Haauh! These look like competion for us....
10 Camaroen / Impala Mk II Solo Aero Display 1040 10 Int / Fight
So thats where they sold the surplus Imp's that used to buzz us outside Lanseria.
11 SAAF Museum / Harvard Solo Display 1050 10 Vint / SAAF
Now that would be a fine engine to fit to my HiAce....
12 Tyco Jet Duo / L39 & L29 Formation Aerobatic 1100 15 Civ
When I ween Lotto......
13 Kulula.Com / Boeing 727 Flypast 1115 5 Civ / BA
14 SAAF Museum & 35 Sqn/Albatross & C47TP Displays 1120 10 Mar / SAAF
Hauh! Over the sea?
15 Capital Air / Bell 206B Hi Jack 1130 10 Action/Civ
They chased my cousin Vuki.... now he is in C.Max.
16 Aerosud / Mirage F1AZ”S” Solo Aero Display 1140 10 Fight/Civ
Eish....Eish! (Huge grin on face as he peers up into the sky, ed. Note)
17 NAC Demo Team / Premier 1, King Air B200 & Bell 427 Demo 1150 10 Civ
Impressive... but I still think a flymachine should have wings....
18 Shurlock Aerobatic Team / Pitts Formation Aerobatic 1200 15 Civ
19 Glen Dell / Zlin 50l Solo Aero Display 1215 10 Springbok/Civ
20 SAAF Museum / Puma Flypasts 1225 5 Photo’s
They look like they would make a good i-tekkiesi..... at least parking would not be a problem.
21 SAPS / BK117, MBB 105, AS 350B3, MD 550 & PC 6 Crime Prevention 1230 15 Action/ SAPS
Eish... got chased by them the other day... my HiAce looked like the one that was used in a cash in transit heist.
22 60 & 2 Sqn / Boeing 707 & 3 Cheetah C Flypast & ACM 1245 15 Fight/SAAF
Now if only we could refuel like that on the Ben Schoeman hiway.
23 Silver Falcons / 4 X PC7 Mk II Formation Aerobatic 1300 15 SAAF
But why call them silver when they are painted red and white? Still they are dem good.
Lazy Lunch - And was it not! Eish... I last had so much to eat at bra John Indlovo's wedding feast.
24 Glider Aerobatics 1315 10 Civ
And they have no engines?? Hauh! Eish.....
25 Samba Solo Display 1325 10 Civ
26 Tiger Moths & Chipmunks Formation Flypast 1335 15 Civ
More of those cloth planes.... How do they stop bullets?
27 85 CFS / Impala Gannet Solo Aero Display 1350 10 Fight/SAAF
I thought they were birds?....
28 SAA / Boeing 747 Flypast & Display 1400 10 Civ
Boring..... but it would be a good i-tekkiesi (Grins from ear to ear. ed.)
29 16 Sqn / 4 X Rooivalk Display 1410 10 SAAF
30 Trade Centre Pitts Solo Aero Display 1420 10 Civ
31 Saphire Helicopters / Bell407 Eskom Live Wire 1430 10 Action/Civ
These okes do what! Nooit!..... i-tekkiesi driving is safer thanks.
Dees Brian Emmines i-kommetator, he sure knows a lot!
32 SAAF Museum / Vampire Solo Aero Display 1440 10 Fight/SAAF
My uncle Vusikele told me about them at Sharpville....
33 2 Sqn / Cheetah C Solo Aero Display 1450 10 Fight/SAAF
Eish.... too beautiful!
34 Shurlock Aerobatic Team / Zlin 50l Formation Aerobatic 1500 15 Civ
35 Nationwide / Boeing 737 Flypast 1515 5 Civ
Boring... But would make a fine i-tekkiesi.
36 AMF Pakistan / Mushshak Solo Aero Display 1520 10 Int
Errrr... the pilot, he looks a bit like Ossama?
37 SAAF / SABDF / 2x Casa 212, 2 X C130, 2 X Alo III, 3 X Oryx 4 X Rooivalk Mini War / Capability 1530 30 Act / SAAF & SANDF
Hauh! That was impressive, now I know what bra Joshia, he's a parabat at Tempe, was talking about a week or so ago when they had an exercise... wonder if he is here?
38 Augusta 109A Solo Display 1600 10 Int
Choppers are impressive.
39 BAE / Hawk Solo Display 1610 10 Int/Fight
Eish... too small for i-tekkiesi.
40 SAAB / Gripen Solo Display 1620 10 Int/Fight
Hauh! Eish.... too fast!
41 Netcare 911 / EC 135 + 1 Medivac Rescue 1630 10 Act/Civ
Needed them 2 months ago after ploughing up Sam Ferreira's vegetable patch for the thirteenth time this year. Excellent service!
42 USAF / B1B Flypasts 1640 10 Int
Aauk! The Amerikans are attacking!......... eish that was the B1 bomber. For a few seconds I had thought that Madiba had really pissed off JWB with his remarks about the US wanting to bomb Iraq.
43 Nissan Flying Lions / 4 X Harvards Formation Aerobatic 1650 10 Civ
They make such a beautiful noise those round engines..... (Gazes wistfully as the Harvards disapear from sight.)
Eish! That was a moerofa grand show! So much for me just mentioning hilights!
After seeing all the planes and what they can do I am also going to apply to join the Airforce! It will be much more fun to strafe Mamma Moagabe's shebeen from the air 'cos she said the SANDF wasnt protecting her from the boere!
(Thanks to Simon Lewis and co. at AT)
|Togetherness at the Earth Summit
Sandton's central business district is to be sealed off during the Earth Summit in September when 85 000 delegates and 180 world leaders are expected. The town centre will temporarily become United Nations territory and all who enter must do so by bus. Four hundred and fifty minibuses will be hired and drivers will be carefully selected and trained.
My taxi-driver friend from Soweto, Togetherness Amadeus Tshabalala, underwent his driving test the other day to see if he would be a suitable candidate for driving one of the UN buses during the 10-day Earth Summit.
He took along his faithful old Toyota Hi-Ace with its BMW hubcaps and stickers that read "Even God loves taxi drivers" and "Defeat constipation, travel by taxi". The front of the vehicle still bore the big dent, shaped suspiciously like a traffic cop with both arms out. Togetherness told me his passengers who were in fact his examiners - consisted of two black men, an Indian and a white man, but by the time he had driven them around Sandton they were all white.
Now, Togetherness knows Sandton like the back of his hand. He knows every shortcut. So when, during his orientation test he was asked to take the quickest route from Fifth Street to Rivonia, he cut through Woolworths, a school playground and two branches of Pick 'n Pay.
When they asked him to imagine he was carrying a VIP American who was in a hurry, Togetherness drove so fast he overtook a police car chasing a getaway car. Then he overtook the getaway car. He shouted pleasantries to the cops and the robbers, for he knew them all well.
He made a thoughtful little gesture to his imaginary American passenger by slipping an Elvis Presley record into the vehicle's CD player. As the walls of the taxi flexed with the sound waves, Togetherness shouted (in what he considered an American accent) some intelligent questions, such as "Say man, you Yanks still fightin' the kaftans, huh?"
His examiners began firing "typical" questions at him - the sort of questions they said he must anticipate from delegates from weird and wild countries such as Uzbekistan and France. "How far is Pretoria from here?" asked the white man. Togetherness said it was about eight minutes away. "Eight minutes! But Pretoria's 60 kilometres away!" said the white man, aghast. "OK, 10 minutes then." Togetherness said.
And is it true there are lions in the streets of Johannesburg? Even white lions?" asked one of the examiners feigning a British accent. Togetherness misheard him: "White lines?" He began explaining the white lines down the middle of the road and how he thought double white lines (which he had just crossed in order to overtake a petrol tanker) were for cyclists to cycle in between.
"I notice that you stop at green lights but not at red ones," said an
examiner in a muffled voice (because by now he was cowering under his seat). Too dangerous to drive through green lights," shouted Togetherness as Elvis got into All Shook Up. "So many taxi drivers shoot the red light that nowadays it's safer to stop at green and to take off at red."
Togetherness thought the test went well but he's not sure whether he's been selected. As he drove away, I noticed he had a new sticker in the rear window: "Want your skin lightened? Take a taxi."
Gleaned from: http://www.lnn.co.za/Stoepstories/Taxi.html
|Togetherness and the Knobkierie (Aka home brewed Tomahawk cruise missile, Orlando style.)
Now Togetherness, being a modern African man, had just set up his latest acquisition from the neighbourhood Cash Crusaders namely a state of the art PC with internet connection courtesy of M-Web. While browsing he came across the following news item that impressed him greatly. ROCKET BUILT IN SHED "A New Zealand man is building a cruise missile in his garage using parts bought over the internet. Bruce Simpson says he wants to prove how easy it is for terrorists to build a bomb for less than £1,800. He has bought most of the hi-tech components for the missile from internetauction house eBay."
Now this set our intrepid taxi operator come entrepeneur thinking, if Mark Shuttleworth could get a lift in a Russian rocket Togetherness could go into the arms business. There were plenty of customers in the DRC and other countries north of the Limpopo, Togetherness was sure the customes would be only too happy to part with their gold or diamond stashes. After some dead ends he managed to contact various sites using his Zulu customised Google search engine. Together with his newley earned E-Bucks and unlimited Gold Card (Courtesy of his cousin Sethlaba who works for VISA) he was able to order the neccesary components for his newest venture.
The website Aaardvark was most helpful in the matter, ignoring the authors copyright was no problem for Togertherness as his address was a nebulous and often changed location somewhere in the depths of Orlando township, in any case any process sever would have to be out of his mind to venture there. More information was also found on Interestingprojects wich proved to Togertherness that his project was feasable and moreover a sure bet cash cow just waiting to be milked.
Now came the difficult part, thinking of a suitable name for his project he spied the new Coat of Arms for South Africa and saw the Knobkierie, this being the closest approximation to the Red Indian Tomahawk he was struck that this would be the name of his missiles. The Knobkierie project was thus born.
Assembly was done in a spare room Uncle Vukile had spare in his tavern the "Putupot". Various parts had to be obtained to keep costs down, the aluminium struts and various panels were obtained by lightening the weight of MetroRail carriages thereby making them more economical to run and giving the passengers beter ventilation, a two way deal if ever! Wiring for the various electronic sytems were obtained from disused Telkom trunk lines (after removal of said cable some local Outotellers were off line for a period of weeks.) as well as some optic fibre.
Details and plans were obtained from two informative sites USA Today and Howstuffworks.
Fuel and explosive was obtained by cousin Silias, having come across a plentifull supply at his place of work, nl. AECI Modderfontein, he was one of the security personell.
Work on the prototype was completed on schedule even after having some clitches like brother Tomas amputating his pinkie using the new hydraulic metal shears to form the cutouts for inspection holes over the electronic bay. However obtaining suitable GPS recievers did hold up the progress for some time until a steady supply was obtained from cousin Tracy Tshabalala who worked for Outdoor Warehouse, modifying the Garmin GPS 5 was a doddle for Happy Vusikile, having served his apprenticeship at Kentron he knew his way around electronics.
|Happiness Airways - How to put a roofrack on a 727
The missing boeing 727 saga?
"In a brazen act, two men climbed aboard an idle Boeing 727 jet in Angola last month and flew off into the African sky without a trace.
The disappearance touched off searches across the continent and, in the post-September 11 era, prompted worries about why the plane was taken. US investigators and civil aviation officials in Africa said the plane -- which had been converted into a fuel tanker – most likely was taken for a criminal endeavour such as drug or weapons smuggling, but they have not ruled out the possibility it was stolen for use in a terrorist attack.
"There is no particular information suggesting that the disappearance of the aircraft is linked to terrorists or terrorism, but it's still something that obviously we would like to get to the bottom of," said a US State Department spokesperson, Philip Reeker.
US officials speaking on condition of anonymity said a variety of investigative and intelligence-gathering methods were being used to search for the plane across Africa. They declined to provide details.
But experts said that even in the age of satellites and other high-tech search methods, just a new coat of paint and a stolen registration number would make tracking the plane nearly impossible.
"Let's assume (the pilot) did arrive in some place like Nigeria… a couple of thousand dollars changed hands and the aircraft is put in a hangar. The chances it is seen before satellites get a chance are zip," Chris Yates, editor of Jane's Aviation and Security, said in a phone interview from London.
"It's happened before in African aviation," he said.
The plane, with tail number N844AA, left Luanda airport May 25. The transponder was turned off, so the plane's position could not be monitored by air traffic control, US officials said." (MailGuardian Online)
But hey wait! The plane is in KZN!
On 29 Jun 03, at 22:34, Steve Seargent wrote:
Has anyone asked Happiness Airways MD Mr Tshabalala about this?
"There was a report recently of a Boeing, fitted with a roofrack, overtaking a Concorde......."
Eugene L Griessel
|To be continued...
Togetherness episodes were collated here as some were posted to me and others were spread about the web, I seem to have traced the original's to James Clarke formerly of The Star in his Stoep Talk collums, now residing on IOL.CO.ZA, the AAD2002, Knobkierie and Happiness Airways episodes are my own work after being inspired by buddies on AT.
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