Life has left the city’s streets, writes Nontuthuko Ngubane, who finds she even misses cursing the taxis. Then there’s that man at the robot who stole her heart…

The 10th day of this national lockdown was a sad day for me. For the longest time I have not felt loneliness on the street.

I first came to Durban in 2009 and got my driving licence in 2012.

Most of my driving experience has been here in Durban.

I bought my new car 2015 and most trips (according to Google Maps on my phone) have been on Durban’s roads.

Today I was reminded how annoying the morning drive used to be. That is why I usually leave home at 6.30am.

Work always started at 9am and if anyone ever wanted to know why I was early at work that was why – to beat the traffic.

Today, I actually missed the taxis, driving badly on the road. I miss the taxi cutting in front of me, almost hitting my baby red car. I miss swearing at them and promising to have them arrested.

A few years back I would even take down the number plate and promise to open cases, which I never did.

empty lockdown streets
THIS TOWN IS COMING LIKE A GHOST  TOWN: Durban’s Matthews Meyiwa (Stamford Hill) Road has lost that special feeling.


I miss the stare the passengers gave me when I would play my music loud and dance in my car like I have no problems.

I sometimes miss the wink other drivers gave me or when they pulled their windows down to ask for my number (I would ignore them, pretend I can’t hear).

That is why to this day, according to home affairs, I am single (missed opportunities).

I miss even the street vendors always selling me things at the traffic light.

There is this specific guy who I’ve become friends with in the last year. I have got into the habit of giving him R1 every day.

Let me tell you a little about this guy. I don’t know his name. He is a beggar in the corner of Umgeni and  Isaiah Ntshangase  roads, near Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Once he came to my window. As always my music was on full blast and I was dancing. He asked for R1, I ignored him. He started dancing. So I turned the music down and rolled down the window.


He explained his undying love for me: “You are so beautiful. If I had money I would give you everything in this world.

But I have nothing, I can give you my love, maybe wash your car or drive for you. I love you.”

I smiled. If you know me, you know that I am a sucker for love.

I strive for it, I live for it. I fight for it. I thirst for it. I am a lover .

That is my calling in life.

With his words he stole my heart. So I gave him R1.

Now every time he sees me, he says, “Just R1, please.


So it has become a habit of giving him money. When I don’t have R1, sometimes on good months, I give him R2 or R5. On the days when I am down and out he says, “No, it’s fine. I am counting how much you owe me now.”

So today when I passed that traffic light, I noted he was not there. I wonder where he was, who he was fooling around with.

I missed a lot of things on the road, but mostly I miss the happy person I was during that drive.

I miss the rush on the road.

I miss a lot of things… until I write again.

lockdown empty streets Durban
BANNER IMAGE: The intersection of Umgeni and Isaiah Ntshangase (formerly Walter Gilbert) roads near the Moses Mabhida Stadium. It was here that the writer struck up a friendship with a panhandler blessed with unusual panache. Lockdown has left Durban’s streets largely empty. Pictures: Nontuthuko Ngubane

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