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Cold comfort in Langlaagte's queues

By unknown | Mar 05, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

It is 4.45am on a chilly Johannesburg morning. House music is playing a metre away from where I am standing.

Sitting on a chair and wrapped in a blanket, the young man sitting next to me moves his head up and down to the beat of the music from his cellphone.

"I love this gadget because it keeps me entertained. The music whiles away time while I am waiting for the sun to rise," he said.

Behind me is a young woman reading a novel while she waits in the queue.

Together with her and more than 200 others, we are queuing at the Langlaagte testing station to be allocated dates for our driving tests.

This is what Johannesburg's would-be drivers have to go through daily across the province's drivers' testing stations.

Some arrive as early as 2am just to be the first to be served when the testing station opens for business.

Already there just after 4am, I thought I was sufficiently early, but my neighbour dampened my spirit.

"I have been coming here for the past three days. They will take the first 100 applicants and tell us there is no more space available. This is not for the faint- hearted," she said.

I ask her if she would consider getting a driver's licence outside Gauteng, given the present state of affairs.

"Maybe. But doing that would cost me more money. I struggled to get my learner's licence and persevered. I will get that driver's test date eventually."

As we continued to chat I realised that more and more people were joining the queue.

To my surprise there were people who came late, but were allowed to be in front of me. And at 7.30am when the doors of the testing station were opened, the latecomers were the first to be served.

I could only make sense of this when a clerk at the testing station explained.

He said: "These are people from yesterday. For today I will take 150 people only."

Unfortunately I was not part of the lucky 150, because only 80 who came for the first time were given dates and the rest turned away.

A sour moment for those who braved the cold Joburg morning. My neighbour took a deep breath.

"The story of my life," she said while standing hopelessly.


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