Taxi hand signals in Johannesburg

  • 04 May 2015 | Daphney Mngomeni
Image courtesy of Will Vanlue

Taxis are a worldwide phenomenon – after all people need to get places. Each country’s taxis have their own peculiarities: Belgium’s drivers love speed and the UK’s cabbies like to talk. Of course, South Africa’s drivers are no exception.

In South Africa, minibus taxis are a hybrid between a bus and the sedan taxis usually found elsewhere in the world. These taxis don’t just transport a single person or group, but many people who may all be going to different places.

So, you need to know in which direction a taxi is going before you get in. This is where knowing the taxi hand signals becomes useful.

In places like New York waving your hand or whistling will hail you a cab – in Johannesburg we use fingers.

If you’ve ever driven on Johannesburg’s roads, you would likely have seen people standing at the side of the road with a finger in the air (not that finger!), or two fingers pointing to the side, or three fingers pointing downwards and so forth. 

Here’s a quick guide to some of the taxi hand signals you’ll see and can use in Johannesburg.

One finger pointed in the air will stop you a taxi travelling to downtown Johannesburg (Noord or Bree which are the two main taxi ranks in the CBD).

Pointing your index finger down means you’re going local.

If you’re in the Midrand area and raise four fingers, you’ll get a taxi to Fourways, and if you’re in downtown Johannesburg and raise three fingers you’ll get one heading to Southgate near Soweto.

Are you trying to get to Bree or Noord taxi rank from Auckland Park, Cresta or Braamfontein? Spreading all your fingers in the air should sort you out.

If it’s Halfway House in Midrand that you’re trying to get to, you’ll need both your hands to make a cutting signal.

When it comes to getting around Johannesburg (and a few other provinces in South Africa) using a taxi – it’s your fingers that have the power.