Katrina James is an Australian photographer based in Berlin. She sent us some photos from a stay in South Africa and we liked them a lot, so when we had the chance to meet her in Berlin, we went for it. Among lots of other things, Katrina told us about the mini-buses in Cape town: “you never know exactly what you are going to get on one of these rides”. Exactly the kind of adventures we want to hear about – and see photos of. We highly recommend that you visit her website for more great photos. Bonus: read about her photography workshop on our friend Nicole’s website

Click on the button to start the photo essay “MBT’s The REAL public transport of Cape Town”.

Most tourists are encouraged to stay away from the mini bus taxis in Cape Town, they are portrayed as dangerous, overcrowded and unsafe which is not wholly untrue, however they are the lifeline of transport in the city.

  • Soundtrack of the report
  • Titanium
  • David Guetta feat. Sia

As long as your destination is somewhere between the starting and ending point of your you can get on and off anywhere you like, there are no set routes only a starting and ending point, which means the time to your destination can vary drastically as the buses stop to pick up and let off passengers along the way, other delays can also include stopping for petrol and cigarettes.

The most exciting part is you’re never exactly sure what you are going to get, the personalities of the drivers shine through in the mini buses, some are in excellent condition, perfectly clean and well looked after and while others have seen better days and you are left wondering if the bus will actually make it to your destination, music blaring from the sound system keeps you entertained and takes your mind off the 5 other people squeezed on the three person seat with you.

The mini bus taxis were my preferred choice of transport for the three months I was there and I survived without incident. Well I was proposed to on two different occasions, does that count?

The main station is a hive of activity, its worth going there just too see a completely different side of Cape Town, with markets stalls seeing everything from fruit and vegetables to rat poison and super glue. I never encountered anything but friendliness there and although I was warned about taking my camera there, I knew it was worth the risk once I started to shoot.

Cape Town main station is the starting point to get just about anywhere in the city.



The vans are well looked after and cleaned regularly




The main station is also a social place despite the smells of sewerage, which, is particularly bad on a hot summers day.
Two drivers take some time out while waiting for passengers.
A driver takes a chance to have a short nap.
The cue waiting to leave the main station.


In no peak times you have to wait for the mini bus to fill up, it’s normal to wait between 15 and 30 min.

A mini bus on its way to the main station.