Disgruntled car guards who operate in the Komani CBD allege that police officers want them to permanently stop operating in town.
This came after some car guards claimed to have been unfairly arrested by the police for no apparent reason recently.
Nkosi Mpumela who has been operating as a car guard in a store parking lot in Zeiler Street since 2010 said three police officers arrested him and his colleague, Tembelani Majezi, at 11am along with five others who were picked up in different parking lots around town.
Mpumela said, “The police came while we were working and asked us if we were store employees. When we said no, they instructed Majezi and me to take off our reflector jackets and get into the police vehicle. We asked them to give us an explanation, but they ignored us.”
He said the police targeted more car guards in Cathcart Road, Robinson Road near the magistrate’s court and later near the intersection of Robinson Road and Ebden Street.
“When we got to the police station we insisted that they tell us the offence we had committed. They told us they had received an instruction from Bhisho to arrest us because we were causing a disruption and were drunk. We were taken to a cell and told we would be out at 4pm. The cell smelled horrible and there was urine and faeces on the floor and in the non-functioning toilets. We were given bread and cool drink to eat. We asked the police officer how we were expected to eat in such an unhygienic place, but the door was slammed behind us.”
He said at 4pm they were still locked in and were eventually released at around 6pm.
“The police were not willing to transport us home. We were told to use the money we had made from the parking lot to get home. We received court orders which stipulated that if we were found operating as car guards we would be fined R50.”
“After I was initiated I did not have employment so I decided to become a car guard until such time as I could get a permanent job. I did not want to be idle and get involved in criminal activity. We understand that there are corrupt car guards out there, but it is not fair that we should all be painted with the same brush.”
Mpumela and Majezi jointly said their rights had been being violated by the police officers as they had an agreement with the owner to operate in the store’s parking lot.
Majezi said, “We have been working well for all these years without any problems. People trust us with their cars. Mpumela and I were not even drunk and no breathalyser tests were done.”
Tsepo Makoko who was also arrested said he was a former parking marshal for a company which previously had a contract with Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) and when the company’s contract finished with EMLM his job came to an end.
“I decided to become a car guard because I had no other source of income. The former company had around 24 employees in town and we all lost our jobs. Motorists have no problem with us operating in Robinson Road because we look after their cars. If a motorist bumps another car, we take down the number of the car for the owner. ”
There had been public complaints that parking marshals were still using machines to charge motorists for parking even though the contract of the company had long since been terminated.
Makoko said the company had collected the machines a long time ago and there were none of its former car guards still operating with machines in the CBD.
Two other car guards who operate in Ebden Street said they had been arrested the same way on two separate occasions.
EMLM acting spokesperson Gcobani Msindwana said the machines belonged to the company not the municipality and the responsibility lay with the company on how they were handled. The municipality had received no complaints about the continued use of the machines.
The contract ended before the amalgamation of the three erstwhile municipalities. It was terminated because its time had lapsed and the service provider was no longer operating according to the terms of the contract. It was not providing any significant value for money for the municipality. “If the municipality requires a service provider the supply chain processes will be followed to the letter.”
Police spokesperson captain Namhla Mdleleni said, “There are no car guards in Queenstown, only metre parking that was authorized by municipality and the contract has expired. No one is permitted to guard vehicles in town.”
Mdleleni said the members were arrested in terms of the Eastern Cape Liquor Act 10/2003/59 for being drunk and drinking in the street. “The police are to ensure all the laws are obeyed including the Liquor Act”
She also stated that there were no cells with blocked toilets in the police station.