Mlungu taxi driver happy with his job

Unenkinga Yini? (Do you have a problem?) That is the sticker at the back of Dumisani Murphy's Toyota Quantum minibus taxi.

Murphy, who refuses to give his full name and age, is happy to be referred to as Dumisani, Ganda Ganda or Mama Jack.

The mlungu taxi driver, who operates from Bree taxi rank to Soweto, says he does not see himself as any different from his colleagues. He just wants to live a normal life like any other operator.

A Sunday World team boarded his taxi from the Joburg CBD to Orlando and his driving and behaviour on the road was no different from a typical taxi driver.

Dressed in shorts, a t-shirt and a sporty, Murphy zapped through the traffic with his right arm hanging from an open window and constantly greeted other taxi drivers on the road. His passengers were spoiled with lots of laughter as the portly-built Murphy cracked one joke after the other.

"The art of making people laugh is making jokes about yourself and not about them, because you don't know their sense of humour.

"It is very boring to drive when passengers are quiet, it is depressing. So it makes all of us happy if we can all laugh.

"It doesn't matter how good or bad your day was, we need to all be happy," he says.

The driver, who speaks fluent Zulu, says his mother is Afrikaans and his father is English but he prefers Zulu and Tsonga.

He hails from Bergville, a small farming town on the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu-Natal, and has been taking commuters from Jozi to Soweto for more than eight years.

Murphy says he leaves his home in Emdeni, Soweto at 3am to start his daily duties and knocks off at 6.30pm. He does not work on Sundays.

He keeps an L-shaped wheel spanner in the side pocket of his driver door and uses it to chase after other drivers when waiting on the queue for his next ride.

"We chase each other just for fun. There are no personal feelings attached to it. Part of the game includes chasing each other and whoever runs away loses coins from the fare they made from their previous ride."

Although he is stout, Murphy says his fast legs have helped him win many rounds and gained himself a few coins.

He is well-known in the township and enjoys the attention he gets from residents. While travelling to Emdeni, a group of children shouted out his name and danced.

"This happens a lot, people are happy to see me while others are shocked that I live among them. There is also a culture shock, because other people still expect a white person to be treated in a certain way," he said.

Murphy once tried to break away from the taxi industry when he took up a job as a manager at a Nandos outlet, but left soon after struggling to keep up with the long late hours.

The only positive thing that came out of his stint at the chicken eatery was that he met his fiancée, Dikeledi Nkwane while working there.

Nkwane said she met her fiancée in 2015 when he was still a manager at the restaurant.

She says she was reluctant to go out with him at first, because she had just survived an abusive relationship that saw her spend four months in an intensive care unit in hospital.

"I was a cashier at Spur and my boss asked me to send a piece of paper to Dumisani. I didn't know the paper had my cellphone number on it. When I was at the door he called and I was annoyed, but I decided to give him a chance."

She explained that people act differently around them because he is a white man renting a room in a township.

Nkwane says her family once tried to mock him in their language at a wedding and they were shocked when he responded to their comments.

The couple now has a two-year-old son together while Murphy has three children from his previous relationship.

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