“Only the poor man feels it,” said Langelihle Ndaba from Mfume, a village in Umgababa, KwaZulu-Natal. She is one of many South Africans feeling the knock of the current petrol hike.
The Department of Energy announced petrol price increases of between 23 and 26 cents per litre from 4 July, bringing the total cost for unleaded 95 petrol to just over R16 per litre. This translates into a fare increase of up to R2 for taxi commuters.
Chairperson of the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO), Boy Zondi, said that the fare increases follow the latest petrol price hike.
Like millions of commuters in the country, Ndaba uses public transport to and from work on a daily basis. She works as a cashier in iSipingo where she earns R2,000 a month. She now pays up to R44 a day for taxi fares.
“I’ve been earning the same salary for two years now but the cost of living continues to rise. I spend more money going to work than I get from actual work,” said Ndaba. This is only a small exaggeration. If she works five days a week, her fares come to over R940, almost half her salary.
“If I do not show up at work because I don’t have a taxi fare, my boss will hire someone else,” she said. “I have children who have matriculated but have never worked. I cannot afford to be unemployed because it means we’ll all suffer.”
Naledi Ngidi is a matric student at Umlazi Comtech and is currently attending holiday classes for extra tuition. The classes run six days a week, but Ngidi said she could only attend three because of the high fares.
Vincent Madlopha, who lives in Pelham, Pietermaritzburg spends R820 per week getting to and from work in Durban. He said that because of the hefty taxi fares he no longer sends money to his mother in Mpumalanga.
“The family depends on my financial assistance but I cannot offer it because I’m working only to survive,” said Madlopha. “I can only pay for rent and transport with my salary … It makes escaping poverty so much harder because you continuously have to keep grinding and struggle to keep your family afloat.”
South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) organiser in KwaZulu-Natal, August Mbele, said the Federation condemns the fuel increase and that a national shutdown is to be expected in July.
“Many South Africans work only to afford basic needs, a trend enforced by the apartheid government to oppress people,” said Mbele. “Even after the democratic era was established, nothing has changed. This means that we must now take to the streets and show the government that we’ve had enough.”