Standing together

Amidst chaos and violence in South Africa, people have come together to protect their communities.

Carinda van der Westhuizen and the taxi operators at Foodzone in Schoemansville.

Hartbeespoort and Brits are no different, and an incident in Schoemansville, is a heartwarming example of this.

Taxi associations in Brits and Hartbeespoort on Tuesday joined forces with the various community safety structures to ensure that the communities and businesses in Madibeng remain safe, and their actions turned a Hartbeespoort resident’s feeling of fear into one of hope and belief in a better future for all in this country.

Without knowing about the taxi associations’ pledge to safeguard businesses in the area, Carinda van der Westhuizen visited the Foodzone Supermarket on Wednesday morning and encountered a convoy of taxis and people at the supermarket. With the recent spate of violence and looting in the rest of the country in mind, she felt alarmed and locked her doors. “With all the taxis and people walking to the shop, there was no way I could get away. I was scared. I did not know what was happening. The next moment a man knocked on my window and told me to get out. I said no, and then he said ‘Ma’am, my name is Tshepo and we are here to protect you.’ I got out and he walked with me to the shop.”

Taxi operator, Tshepo Chabalala, said he saw Carinda sitting scared in her car and approached her. “I told her don’t be scared. We are here to protect you. You are covered.” Tshepo said they have been watching what is happening in other parts of the country. “Here in Hartbeespoort, we don’t allow those kind of things and that is why we are looking after our malls and shops.”

Tshepo even accompanied Carinda back to her car after she had finished her shopping. “I now feel safe going to the shops, we see the taxis moving around, keeping watch.”

Carinda went back the next day to look for Tshepo and the other taxi operators to thank them for making her feel safe. “We have to stay positive in these times. We can stand together, I saw that this week.”

Carinda’s story has gone viral on social media and has carried the message of unity countrywide.