‘Car guards’ accused of harassment

Street people posing as car guards in a beachfront parking lot are harassing visitors to the beach and restaurant customers, according to residents.

Street people posing as car guards in a Hout Bay beachfront parking lot are harassing beachgoers and restaurant customers, say residents who want the authorities to take action.

About 10 vagrants have been putting up shacks around the parking lot for the last few months, according to nearby residents, some of whom declined to be named, saying they feared retaliation from the group.

The City’s Law Enforcement no sooner moved them from the area than they returned, said a resident who would only give his name as Richard.

“They will remove the people and their belongings, but almost the next day, those same people are back, and they have replaced the items that were taken from them.”

He said he had argued with a woman who was regularly seen in the parking lot and appeared to be in charge.

“She is very rude and basically believes she is running a small business there. When you pull up, she plays all nice, and the minute you do not give her anything, she completely changes her tune.”

Another Hout Bay resident, Laila Combrink, said her past efforts to help the group had been rebuffed and she had noticed that “substance abuse” was key to why they chose to remain on the street.

“I used to work at a shelter as a field inspector, and we used to go around to cases like these. Most of the time, these people want to be on the street, where there are no rules and they can basically do as they please.

“I approached some of the people living around that parking and you can see there is some kind of substance abuse.”

Residents complain that the street people drink and fight in public and chop down trees to make shelters and fires, which are a danger in a windy area like Hout Bay.

When Sentinel News approached the group, we were met with hostility. They refused to speak or have their pictures taken.

Law Enforcement spokesman Wayne Dyason said that in Cape Town, like many other cities, there had been an increase in people living on the streets mainly due the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The City’s Law Enforcement department receives complaints on a daily basis from many parts of the metropole relating to anti-social behaviour by persons living on the street or in so-called tented camps.”

Law Enforcement officers had responded to complaints about the parking lot on Monday January 16 and then issued one fine related to unlawful occupation, he said.

Follow-ups the next day resulted in the issuing of three fines in terms of the City’s by-laws.

Mr Dyason urged the public to report any by-law transgressions, including intimidation by self-appointed car guards or concerns about potential criminal activity, to the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre by dialling 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline.

“Due to the many demands on the City’s enforcement services, it is not always possible to maintain a static presence in any particular area. The City reminds residents that there are processes under way to effect meaningful change,” he said.