The festive season exodus from Gauteng has begun with thousands of people making their way from Tshwane to their holiday destinations since Friday.
With many companies closing for the festive break, employees who have an opportunity to rest and enjoy time with their families kept the toll plazas and public transport hubs a flurry of activity.
Traffic started to pick up on highways such as the N1 and N3 and smaller routes including Moloto Road to KwaMhlanga and the R101 to Polokwane.
People woke-up early to catch the first taxis at long-distance taxi ranks, while others headed to popular long-distance bus stations such as Bosman.
One of the most eye-catching sights around this time of the year is the kind of luggage people load on cross-country buses and trailers.
Travelling to Zimbabwe and Mozambique with large items like beds, stoves, fridges, kitchen wall units, car tyres, bicycles, sofas, car parts, washing powder and trays of energy drinks, is par for the course.
Large containers of cooking oil, baking powder, sugar, cans of beans and fish were also being loaded on to public transport.
Enock Sibanda and Marry Moyo from Zimbabwe said they just could not wait to be back home in Harare, to see their three children after a long year with underwhelming economic gains.
Moyo said: “I sell food in Marabastad, and this year and the previous year were just too hard. Last year I did not go home for Christmas because I had a terrible year.
“At some point the Tshwane metro police department took my stock when desperation pushed us back to the streets to try to sell food despite warning about the lockdown.
“Right now I do not care, I just want to go and see my children and spend time with them. I have bought them gifts and clothes that I know they will like. This is going to be a long trip, but I am ready for it.”
Eric Ledwaba, who was preparing to go to Mokopane in Limpopo, said he wanted to leave last Wednesday so he could spend the Day of Reconciliation with his family, but feared that the roads would be gridlocked as many people had the same idea.
“When it is like that it becomes very dangerous on the roads, especially for us to travel through the R101 to avoid toll gates.
“You find people who drive recklessly under the influence of alcohol trying to overtake more than three cars continuously, and that road is small.
“I am hoping today will be better, as it will get worse in the last few days before Christmas Day,” said Ledwaba.
Tshwane MMC for Community Safety Alderman Grandi Theunissen and chief of the Tshwane Metro Police Department, Lieutenant-General Johanna Nkomo, called on the traffic police to ensure enhanced road safety.
Spokesperson for the Tshwane taxi industry, McDonald Makata, said their patrollers would be on the roads and ensuring that their members were maximising the safety of commuters and other people on the roads.