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In the driving seat of the vacci-nation

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Victor Nkomo is one of the backstage heroes who is helping community members get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Over the past few months, Nkomo has become a pro at finding the shortest queues, best venues, and escorting those who need assistance to get their jab.

“I feel proud. I believe we are doing something good – we are saving lives,” he says, estimating that he has helped dozens of people including elderly shul congregants, staff, and any others in need.

When he began escorting people, he kept returning to the same venue. But then he “started driving around and scouting which are the better places with less of a queue. Mostly my guesses have been good, and I will find I have made the right choice.”

While many praise him, Nkomo reserves his admiration for the staff on site. “Once I took an elderly couple who were in wheelchairs to get vaccinated. Everyone in the queue was just so happy to let them through. Wherever we go, people are always so happy to help.”

Nkomo officially works as a driver at the company, Legal & Tax Services. He arrived in South Africa from Zimbabwe in 1999 and, to begin with, worked as a gardener and doing newspaper deliveries. It was through the latter that he met one of the owners of the company, who encouraged him to pursue his dream for a better future. A few years later, he had obtained his driver’s license, and was “hired on the spot” by the owners of the company, both members of the community.

First, he helped company employees and their elderly family members get to their vaccination venues, then he expanded it to helping “whoever needed to be vaccinated and didn’t have transport to get there or know how to [organise the process] themselves”.

Recently, Sydenham Shul asked if Nkomo could help in getting its staff and some of its congregants to vaccination venues.

He performed this service with aplomb, said the shul’s executive director, Jonty Cohen. “He does everything with such good grace. Besides the frontline heroes, Victor is one of my heroes. He goes out and assists the community without expecting anything in return; nothing is ever too much trouble for him. Victor is probably the kindest, gentlest, warmest soul that I know on this earth.”

He describes how Nkomo stays with people in queues when needed. At other times, he has shlepped back and forth taking people in separate shifts throughout the day to ensure proper social distancing at all times.

Judge Ezra Goldstein said that although their encounters were brief, Nkomo made an immediate impression when he took Goldstein and his wife to a vaccination venue.

“I liked him immediately. He was calm and warm, taking us there and back very kindly. He is obviously a mensch,” says Goldstein.

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