Guarding local car guards

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Car guards are at most unemployed individuals who are seeking employment to care for their families. PHOTO: Supplied

A nuisance to some and a great help to others. This is the plight of local car guards who try to make ends meet by guarding some of the busiest centres and parking bays in the city.

Bloemfontein Courant spoke to three car guards from a buzzing centre. For their protection, they requested the publication to use pseudonyms to protect their identity. Silky C barely had a moment to stand still as he explained some of his challenges while he directed a shopper to a parking bay.

“I ended up here because I was unemployed and I stayed at home for a long time without getting a job. But ever since I came here, I survived, mostly, every day,” he said. He has been doing this since 2012. He recalls times when the centre becomes busy. For him, that is an opportunity to make more money but on days when there are fewer people, it does make it a little harder. Part of the challenges he highlighted is that they have to work despite changes in the weather, for instance. “We’re supposed to be here … That’s what is important.”

The concept of car guarding is based on the community’s positive response to their presence and gratitude by tipping the guard. PHOTO: Supplied

Mandoza echoes the sentiment but feels that they should be earning more at the end of the day. According to him, the fee that is payable to a security company that manages the car guards on site makes it difficult for them to cover their daily expenses. Despite this, he remains grateful to the people who try to pay. “I have seven people to take care of. I am the breadwinner. “It is not a must but it helps a lot.” Another car guard added that although some people are nice to them, others find it hard to understand their capability of protecting their cars.

According to Ewaldt de Witt from Targe Security, their company manages car guards at various shopping centres in the city. Their employees are unemployed security officers trained and registered with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority.

“The concept of car guarding is based on the community’s positive response to their presence and gratitude by tipping the guard. The car guard does experience constant derogatory verbal abuse and threats by commuters and street vagrants. It is a daily challenge to stay positive and to ensure a safe return. Once established in an area, the car guard manages to build a good relationship with regular customers, and the once despise and ungrateful treatment changes into a long-lasting friendship, ease, and safety support,” he said.

He added that the guards are trained and vetted accordingly. Successful car guards are supplied with uniforms and are required to pay a minimal fee for operation. “It all depends on how big and busy the area is. We keep it at a minimal fee to ensure the individual is looked after. Car guarding is usually a temporary solution for the individual until such time he or she gets employed by a security company as a contractual or permanent security officer earning a monthly salary,” he explained.

Gypseenia Lion
gypseenia@mahareng.co.za