Armscor is calling for tenders for its surplus Buffels- those tree-flattening,
mine - resistant, bullet-proof armoured troop carriers. they can race
over a hill and dale like anything and negotiate roads even as potholed
as Houghton's without difficulty.
My friend, Togetherness Tshabalala, the demon taxi driver of Diepsloot,
to let him test-drive one with a view to converting it to a taxi.
All things concidered, the vehicle stood up quite well after a day on
the Soweto run even though its designers had never envisaged it being
subjected to such rigourous treatment.
The Buffel seats 12 but (to Armscor's amazement) Togetherness has managed
to squeeze 57 people into one without any of them suffering more than
occasional lapse into unconsiousness. He found the Buffel had superb
airconditioning in that it had no roof- just roll bars.
As Togetherness roared down Jeppe St and did his usual four- wheel
drift into Kazerne taxi rank, a casual observer might have thought an
army task force had arrived. More alert observers would have spotted Togetherness's
DEFEAT CONSTIPATION - TRAVEL BY TAXI.
The windowless Buffel has armoured-plated sides with gun rests. The driver
sits in a bullet-proof one-man cab.
Hopewell Zwani, Togetherness's rear gunner, was ecstatic about it. For
instance, on the N1 through Robertsham, they had passed Thuka Radebe,
Togetherness's arch-rival driving his 100-dent Toyota Hi-Ace with BMW
When Thuka saw Togetherness at the wheel of an armoured car his eyeballs
left their parent sockets. Thuka fired a couple of friendly shots in Togetherness's
direction and was amazed to see the slugs flatten against the glass and
slide off as harmlessly as raindrops. But when a burst of return fire
came from the side of
Togetherness's strange taxi, Thuka was not amazed, he was gob-smacked
- he was so taken aback he went straight through the barrier and into
vegetable patch for the second time in a week.
The great thing about driving a Buffel, said Togetherness, was that one
could travel "as the crow flies" because the vehicle can go
through concrete walls, people's gardens and across bare veld, and it
can shoulder aside traffic. It cut 2km off the Diepsloot route. And when
Togetherness shot through red lights he recieved enormous respect from
"I want to buy one," he told me,"but the government is
bound to overrule the sale because every taxi owner will want one and
the sight of convoys of armoured vehicles roaring in and out of towns
will be mis-interpreted by tourists.
"In any event I'd be bidding against the heist gangs and even the
cops won't be able to outbid those guys."
Togetherness's experience was not wasted, though. Next day his Toyota
had a new sign - FULLY AIRCONDITIONED. he had removed the roof and installed