I was once in a taxi that turned back to Vosloorus in Boksburg because the driver thought we had cheated him.
What happened is that the "accountant" (the passenger sitting beside the driver who also collects the fares) could not do her sums right.
The fares were returned to us and then sent back to the front. Still, they did not add up. So the driver drove back to the township rank.
We were surrounded by the drivers who were binding (waiting for their own loads). As they insulted and threatened us, one oldish taxi owner counted the money, gave the driver his share and then gave us change.
It transpired that one lady in front had paid for her brother who was sitting at the back. This meant that the driver had an extra fare in his hands.
Instead of checking the amount and taking his share, the confused man took us back to the taxi rank. We were very late for work. I slunk in at work through the back entrance to avoid being seen by the boss.
A fan of this column (let's call him Victor) tells me that he prefers going home late in the evenings because the tired taxi drivers lose their ability to do their sums.
He pays R5 from Soweto to the Johannesburg CBD. Victor says one time he forked out the R5 and the driver gave him back R15. When he tried to return the excess, a passenger dug him viciously in the ribs and said, "no, no, no".
Since then he is sometimes lucky enough to get his weekly travel money back.
I do not know how true this story is because Soweto taxi drivers are very sharp. Most of them come from Ekasi and nothing much gets past them.
There are some passengers who refuse to pass the fares forward. While there is an etiquette surrounding the paying of fares, smart ladies with immaculate hairstyles refuse to play ball.
They go ballistic if you tap them on the shoulder and proffer the money. It seems that they think passing the fares will make the money in their purses pass into other hands.
Then there are passengers who count the money, all of it, and don't pass it on. One time on the way to Germiston, we collected the fares and passed them on to a young girl who was sitting next to the door. She got off halfway through the trip.
It was then that the driver grumpily asked for his money. We were indignant at this and told him we had paid. But it transpired that the fares had gone walkabout with the young lady.
The taxi turned back but we could not find her because we did not know her. The young crook had made a tidy R70 at our expense. We had to pay again but luckily the driver agreed that the fault was partly his.