Road Test - Toyota Camry
When Victor Rikhotso needed a new vehicle, he made his choice from back to front. The main factor affecting his vehicle selection was the need to transport two folding wheelchairs in the boot. Living in and around Soweto and southern Jo'burg, he has seen how drivers with disabilities are targeted by criminals so it was important for Victor that the wheelchairs be concealed in the boot, leaving no visible evidence of disability. Even his disability sticker is only displayed when needed. Vigilance has saved him from a couple of hijackings as he noticed that he was being followed and managed to shake off his followers. So, before looking at any other feature, he went around looking at boot sizes! Once a boot fitted, he then investigated the rest of the vehicle.
Being a Toyota man - he drove a Toyota Corolla for many years - he was delighted when he found that the perfect car for him was a Toyota Camry, it was made to measure!
Victor grew up in a small, dusty village in Limpopo. He got up at 02h00 every morning to tackle the long, shoe-less walk to school with no food or money in his pockets. Life was tough in Limpoposo, at age 15, he moved to Johannesburg, determined to create a better future for himself. He arrived in Daveyton, in the midst of riots and unrest, just before the 1994 elections. This was not what he had anticipated in planning his future. He decided that he wanted to make a difference in his community by helping those who were suffering, so he trained as a paramedic. Despite a full day job he also volunteered at various fire stations. The irony was that, after only ayear working as a paramedic - he was shot whilst filling up at a petrolstation.
His rehabilitation was not easy, he struggled with pressure sores; but he fought back, holding onto his faith and his belief that he could still make a difference and help others. Cheshire Homes in Soweto gave him the stepping stones he needed to re-build his life. He studied, did learnerships, got a job and volunteered at fire station control rooms. This led to a permanent position in the Emergency Control Room for the City of Jo'burg - where he could again use his paramedic skills. It had taken him five years to get back to the career that he had wanted!
He struggled with taxis for a year before deciding to get his own wheels. His first adapted car was a Toyota Corolla, but with his involvement in volunteer projects, he needed to give rides to other wheelchair users - which meant transporting two wheelchairs. The Corolla boot could only fit one.
As a driver with a disability, vehicle reliability was another essential. Victor was delighted that his made-to-measure car was a Toyota as, in his past experiences with Toyota, he found the vehicle's reliable and long lasting, the service impressive and the services affordable.
His 1.6 GLi petrol Camry provides agentleman's ride, with a sense of spaciousness inside the car and hard-wearing,good-looking and comfortable leather seats. It has plenty of power and acceleration when he needs it, but Victor is not a person who races from A to B, so the gentle nature of the car really suits his driving style. It has cruise control, which is a huge bonus when driving with hand controls, and the powerful aircon is a lifesaver on hot days. He is also impressed with the fuel consumption, especially as the price of petrol keeps going up! The wide-opening driver's door, plus seat heights that match his wheelchair seat height, makestransferring an easy manoeuvre.
In his previous car he had permanently fitted hand controls but, in this car, he loves the versatility of the Easy Rider portable hand controls. When his wife wants to drive his car, or if it needs to go for a service, he just takes them out. If he wants to drive her car, also automatic, he just transfers his controls. When it comes time to sell thecar (that is if he is able to part with it!) he can just remove the hand controls and it will not affect the re-sale value of the car, and he need not worry about buying new controls. He can also test drive any new cars that he may beinterested in.
Victor has taken the next step toward rebuilding his life by starting his own business - Vicky's Business Trading and Projects - and his car plays a key role in enabling him to grow the business. Many of the things he does would not be possible if he did not have the RIGHT transport for his needs. He used to be limited where he could go but now he can go any time, any place and he can take his friends with him or give a helping hand to others who need it. And the best part is that he no longer has to worry about catching taxis!