One of the cheapest ways to get transport in and around Cape Town (except walking and highly dangerous cycling) is to use taxis. First thing to know: we do not speak about the European kind of taxis you call and than you pay a fare per kilometer. Taxis are minibuses usually made to transport between 14 and 16 seated passengers.
These figures are more theory than reality because I’ve been in taxis with 20 people and heard about worse.After some breathtaking experiences, I can say that, except all, it is pretty safe to take a taxi (safe by South African standards). Exceptions are: the poor condition some taxis are in and the way most drivers try to get their costumers in the quickest way from point A to point B.
First aspect: I saw and drove in taxis which were more rust on wheels than cars. I was especially impressed by a taxi I took in Langa. How this car was still moving is an enigma to me. Unfortunately, I could not find photos on the Internet showing this kind of taxis.
Second aspect: Drivers have a licence to drive badly or how a friend put it: to kill. I had some breath taking experience while sitting on the front seat in the morning rush hour. Taxi drivers drive where and how they want to drive. I had one driving on the pedestrian walk using the horn to get pedestrians out of the way. Note to everybody who wants to come to SA: as pedestrian you are better prepared to jump when a car comes fast in your direction. You are pregnant, on crutches, in a wheel chair? That does not matter, you better jump. No kidding.
Taxi ranks are mostly part of this places in South Africa (ok, I can only speak about Cape Town) where you hardly see white faces. Blacks and coloureds yes, but very few white faces. The inconvenience is that I always feel uncomfortable the way some people stare at me. The advantage is that people sometimes take care of me, asking me where I come from, how I like SA, if somebody picks me up at the taxi rank, and so on.
You can take taxi at a taxi rank, stop them by waving your finger. You have to know where to get of except if you go to the terminus. To pay the taxi, you give the required amount of money (usually between 4 and 8 R) to the guy or the woman sitting next to you. If you do not have the matching amount, the change comes back to you in a fascinating way I am too lazy not able to describe. That’s definitely something to experience on your own.
Ok, that post is much longer than I wanted it initially to be. But now it is written, so you have to read it. ;-)
Original images from here. The site gives a good review of housing in townships, too.