5 Questions To Ask Before Using Minibus Taxis In Gauteng

Minibus taxis are the most popular mode of transport for most of South Africa’s population. In fact, the taxi industry is made up of 90% minibus taxis (Arrive Alive, 2018).

These taxis are the most available and affordable form of public transport in most urban areas in South Africa. Despite the advantages associated with minibus taxis, the disadvantages sometimes outweigh the advantages. That’s why we put together 5 questions to help you overcome challenges associated with using minibus taxis in Gauteng. Make sure you have answers to the questions – for every trip. We recommend finding a friendly taxi driver, local or fellow Nigerian who can answer all these questions a day before your trip.

1: What is your destination?

Know the name of the destination (e.g. Johannesburg Zoo or Joburg Zoo), and street address (e.g. Jan Smuts Ave & Upper Park Dr, Parkview, Johannesburg, 2193).

Quick safety tips:

  • Do not get off in unfamiliar places or in the middle of nowhere.
  • If you are unfamiliar with your destination. Check it on Google Maps so that you know what to look out for.
  • If possible travel at a reasonable time, preferably not at night time.
  • Tell someone where you are going and update them as often as possible

Of the 36 lives lost daily on South African roads, 3 (8%) are killed in taxi related incidents (Arrive Alive, 2018).

2. Will the minibus taxi drop you off at your destination?

Unfortunately, the taxi will not always be able to drop you off at your final or preferred destination. Taxis follow a predetermined route, known only by taxi drivers and frequent passengers. Try to check out Taximap; the website publish up-to-date information regarding minibus taxi routes, price, hours of operation, and other relevant information for minibus taxis in Johannesburg and for many other major South African cities.

The taxi industry consists of about 150 000 minibus taxis (Arrive Alive, 2018).

3. What time must you be at your destination?

Once again, taxis take a predetermined route that doesn’t always favour the passenger. Leave early to avoid being late. Waiting and travel times can be very long when using taxis so allocate two or three hours for waiting and traveling. Peak hours are early in the morning (there are many passengers going to work) and late afternoons (there are many passengers going home from work).

During peak hours, there are long queues of taxi passengers, long waiting times and a low number of taxis. During off peak hours, there are short queues of taxi passengers, long waiting times and high numbers of taxis. 

Minibus taxis in South Africa make the front passenger count the taxi fare

4. Where do you get minibus taxis to your destination?

Find out where you will be getting a taxi from. Is it from a taxi rank or by the side of the road. Which hand sign must you make to make the taxi stop? See this comprehensive multimedia information from Alberton Record on hand signs to make in order to catch a minibus taxi in South Africa. If you are going to a taxi rank then make sure you are standing at the right queue. If you are not sure that you are standing in the right queue then ask queue marshals, locals and taxi drivers.

Try this greeting.

Sure boss, please where can I get a minibus taxi to Joburg Zoo?

5. Where in the minibus taxi should you sit?

If you are early or lucky enough to choose where to sit, make sure you do not sit in the backseat or the front passenger seat. Choose any other seat (maybe one close to the window, if you prefer) and you should be comfortable.

Do not sit in the front passenger seat of a minibus taxi if your mathematics and multilingual skills are poor. 

Whoever sits in the front passenger seat is expected to collect and count all the taxi fare. If you have never done this before, then you’re lucky because it is daunting. Both the driver and passengers can be very unforgiving about their money. Passengers want their change before they get off at their destination. The driver wants all his money, so if someone did not pay then you will be blamed. Most taxi passengers speak the local South African languages and not English. With that said, being a Nigerian and sitting in the front seat of a taxi in South Africa are like oil and water. They don’t mix!

But then, remember to be conscious of your safety on South African roads and more importantly if you are travelling with kids. SA Taxi Foundation puts pedestrian injury as the leading cause of death in children. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of road safety tips.

On a final note, remember to plan ahead before you dash out for your first minibus taxi ride by writing out your answers to the 5 questions above; this will guarantee a pleasant minibus taxi ride for you. And don’t forget to share your South African minibus taxi experience in the comment section below.

Recommended: Read about road safety in South Africa 

Related Article: James Hall Museum of Transport – Affordable South African Tourist Attraction

Jozi – Location, People, Airports, and Tourism

Jozi

Jozi and Joburg are pet names for Johannesburg, which is the largest city in South Africa. Johannesburg is located in Gauteng, one of nine provinces in South Africa. The word Gauteng means the place of gold in Sotho, one of the eleven official languages in South Africa. Jozi’s coordinates are 26.2041° S (South), 28.0473° E (East). According to the City of Johannesburg, there are seven regions in Jozi.

Jozi - Where is Jozi

A map of Gauteng with Johannesburg highlighted in red

The people in Jozi

The City of Johannesburg has a population of 4,4 million; 76,4% are black people, 12,3% are white people, 5,6% are coloured people, and 4,9% are Indian or Asian. (Statistics South Africa Census, 2011).

Jozi people
Johannesburg Park Station

Airports in Joburg

There are three airports in Jozi, Oliver Reginald Tambo International in Kempton Park (popularly referred to as OR Tambo International), Grand Central Airport in Midrand, Lanseria International Airport in Lanseria, Rand Airport in Germiston, and Palmietfontein Airport.

Jozi Airport
Rand Airport

Universities in Joburg

Joburg is home to two of South Africa’s best universities, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).

Jozi Universities - University of Johannesburg
University of Johannesburg (UJ)

Tourism in Joburg

Some of the top things to see in Joburg are historic sites, landmarks, animal parks, flea markets, private animal sightseeing tours, and street markets. Here are some popular tourist activities:

  • City Sightseeing Joburg Bus for exploring the Carlton Center, Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill and much more.
  • Soweto’s Orlando Towers has bungee jumping, where you can jump from a suspension bridge with a rubber cord around your feet.
  • Apartheid Museum deal with 20th century South Africa, at the heart of which is the apartheid story.
  • Joburg Theatre is the “home to Joburg Ballet, Jill Girard and Keith Smith’s Peoples Theatre Company – performing throughout the year to children between the ages of 3 and 13 – and one of the country’s most respected community development projects in the arts, the tiny ‘black-box’ theatre known as space.com”.
  • Johannesburg Planetarium at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)
Jozi Tourism - City Sightseeing Joburg
City Sightseeing Joburg

Related Article: Johannesburg Zoo in December – Travel Review

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre in Johannesburg

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre is one of Johannesburg’s hiden travel treasures. I found out about the centre on a Sunday morning during my 10-kilometer hike to Auckland Park. The Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre is one of many destinations that make Johannesburg a great travel destination.

Fun things to do in Johannesburg

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

The moment I found out about Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre, I added it to my list of fun things to do in Johannesburg. Sadly, it is closed on Sundays so I couldn’t go inside the centre. Therefore, it has to go on my list of fun places to visit in Johannesburg.

I will visit Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Prior to finding out about this centre, the only thing I knew about Sophiatown was that there were forceful removals of Black South Africans at some point in history. This is why I was happy to have found that the
Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre has preserved the history of Sophiatown. Before I visit the centre and share my travel experience, here is what I found out about the Sophiatown of old.

Sophiatown: Past, Triomf and Present

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

There are three properties in the Sophiatown area that survived the oppressive South African apartheid government. After the destruction of most of the properties during apartheid, the area was renamed ‘Triomf’ which means ‘Victory’ or ‘Triumph’.

It literally means “we (the white people) now have victory over this area and we have dominated it for our use”.

Prior to the destruction of Sophiatown, the area was famous for its rich multicultural flavor. In the 1940’s and early 1950’s, Sophiatown was a melting pot of tribes and races. Several notable artists, politicians and jazz musicians congregated to have conversations and to use their talents to condemn the racist government of their time. It was a breeding ground for anti-apartheid activists.

Trevor Huddleston and Dr. Alfred Xuma

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Trevor Huddleston’s and Dr. Alfred Xuma’s houses are two out of three houses that survived the demolision of the old Sophiatown. Trevor Huddleston was a local priest in the old Sophiatown. His house was next to Dr. Alfred Bitini Xuma’s house. Dr. Xuma was an exceptional medical practitioner in his time and he was a former president of the African National Congress (ANC).

We won’t move movement

Trevor Huddleston, Ruth First, Nelson Mandela, and Helen Joseph were some of the anti-apartheid activists who condemned the destruction of Sophiatown. They were part of the ‘we won’t move movement’ when the Sophiatown area was razed to the ground by bulldozers on 9 February 1955. This was done to give way for new housing developments for white people (whites only areas).

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre
Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Over 2000 fully armed policemen partook in the forceful removals of Black, Coloured, Indian and Chinese people who were living in Sophiatown.

Meadowlands

Black people were relocated to a township in Soweto called Meadowlands. The sad relocation inspired the soulful music of Sibongile Kumalo and others. Thandi Klaassen’s even gave a tribute to Sophiatown in her ‘Together As One’ album.

“Sophiatown was indeed the place they all knew. It was where their dreams came true until the white man came to break it down”.  –
Thandi Klaassen’

Several other artists sang beautiful melodies about the pain of the forced removal of Black people from Sophiatown.

Freedom at last

Thankfully, apartheid’s head has been crushed and Sophiatown’s heritage of multi-plurality has been restored. The rich flavors of art have returned. Life in its fullness is now free for all.

If you have additional information about Sophiatown or Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre, please share it with me in the comments section. I would also love to read your personal experience of life in Sophiatown. I hope to share more photos of my experience at the museum as soon as I visit.

Google Map of Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

The address of the Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre is 71-73 Toby Street corner Edward Road, Sophiatown, Johannesburg. For more information, you can call the Centre on 011 673 1271 or visit their website on www.sophiatownthemix.com.

Related article: Westdene Dam in Johannesburg – Travel Review

Johannesburg Zoo in December – Travel review

African zebras fighting at the zoo

Whether you call it Johannesburg Zoo or Joburg Zoo, the zoo in Johannesburg can be a good spot for a family picnic. How do I know? Well, my husband and I recently visited Johannesburg Zoo for the first time.

Pitori to Jozi

We are still new to Johannesburg so it took a while for us to start exploring it. Phela growing up in Pretoria (Pitori), we were told horror stories about Johannesburg (Jozi). Those Jozi crime stories were enough to keep me away from the city of gold. If it wasn’t for my job and husband, I doubt that I would left Pretoria for Johannesburg.

Entrance and parking fees at Johannesburg Zoo

Enough about Pretoria. We’re in Johannesburg now so let me tell you about our first trip to Johannesburg Zoo. We went to the zoo on a Monday afternoon in December. The first thing we did after parking, was to escort our son to the restrooms. We used the restrooms near the zoo’s covered multi-level parking, which is spacious, ample and secure. After paying for parking (R16 per car) and entrance (R80 per adult and R55 per child), the unfriendly zoo staff granted us access. The zoo staff and security guards didn’t feel like being helpful on that day. To add to that, the signage was faded and confusing.

Johannesburg Zoo
The Johannesburg Zoo entrance

Joburg Zoo has ATMs, food trucks and picnic areas

Despite the cold welcome, we enjoyed watching and (in some cases) interacting with different animals. We started by the birds section so we saw birds, birds, birds and more birds. It was getting boring for me. Luckily, my two favourite people (Akin and Akin) didn’t mind much. Johannesburg Zoo has several food trucks that sell food but I packed a picnic bag full of food. My husband generously carried the heavy picnic backpack everywhere we went. Unfortunately, I forgot the picnic blanket so we had to sit at the concrete bench and chair sets. Luckily, Johannesburg Zoo has a lot of those sitting arrangements – chairs, benches and tables. I was happy to see that Johannesburg Zoo had ATMs on site and rubbish bins throughout the zoo. We bought ice cream from one of the food trucks that had a card machine before venturing off again.

Tiger, woods and a lonely elephant

Eventually, we saw a tiger. It looked exactly like the tiger on the Tiger Brands logo but it was a lot bigger than I expected. We also saw one lonely-looking elephant. The elephant’s home was surrounded by peacocks that appeared to be ready to reproduce. They were running around freely everywhere – some didn’t have their colourful feathers anymore. That was a sad sight. On a brighter note, we also saw a rhino, lemurs, monkeys and antelopes.

Peacocks at the Jozi Zoo
The peacocks at the elephant house

Late for the Amazon Exhibition

However, the Amazon animal section, where marine animals, are kept was closed. It was our fault, we arrived a bit late to the zoo. The Johannesburg Zoo is open weekdays and weekends (Monday – Sunday) from 08:30 – 17:30 but the Amazon section closes around 3pm. Trying to get my family to leave the house early (together) is like pulling teeth. It is painful to endure and horrifying to watch (all at the same time).

The tale of the fighting zebras

Speaking of horrifying moments, we came across the zebras. I have always found zebras to be peaceful and uneventful but not this time.

Zebras fighting
The infamous fighting zebras

Yoh! The zebras at Johannesburg Zoo were wild. They were so wild that even my son (who can also be wild) was a bit scared.

African zebras fighting at the zoo
Another angle of the fighting zebras

The boy and zebra

We walked through a narrow passage and passed some white cranes (and squirrels) on our left. The zebras were on our right hand side. My son and I were walking ahead of daddy (who was admiring the cranes even after having seen a billion birds). My son then decided to run and to my surprise the zebra ran along him (behind the mesh fence). This boy showed no fear and continued to run with this wild zebra.

A boy with a zebra at the zoo
My son and the zebra he tried to befriend

After I asked my son to stop playing with the zebra (in a not so quiet tone), we proceeded to the other side to see more zebras.

This time, we saw sets of zebras, two of which were fighting like wild animals

Yes, I meant to write that!

The end and the beginning of the next visit

The smallest zebra kept on going back for round after round of kicks, bites and what sounded like insults from the bigger zebra. It was interesting to watch at first until the small started zebra crying. This was my first time hearing a zebra cry over and over. These fighting zebras went at this for almost 20 minutes. They were still fighting when we left them.

On my next visit to the Johannesburg Zoo, I am going to check on those fighting zebras. Wish me luck!

To find out more about Johannesburg Zoo, visit their website. We have more travel reviews of places in Jozi – e.g. Westdene Dam in Johannesburg – Travel Review.