On origins, practices and accountability — adding to the car-guard debate

I AM writing in response to the article in the Hillcrest Fever this past week.

My memory of the reason the idea of car-guarding was born when, in the Durban city centre, theft and breaking into motor vehicles began to increase around 20 years ago.

The Central Methodist Church was running a shelter and the idea was born to create work opportunities for people who were sleeping in the shelter during the day, thus car guarding around that area began. People, as I recall, were told not to ask or beg for money and the public were asked to reward the “car guard” on their return to their vehicle if all was in good order.

Some “armed” themselves with sticks to possibly chase away potential perpetrators. It was welcomed and embraced as a wonderful idea.

With any of these situations, business-minded people stepped in and took on the idea.

They started to formalise this act of charging people for the “right” to car guard.

Part of the reason was for accountability of some sort as many people jumped on the bandwagon and, simply by wearing a reflective vest, became a car guard and some were not necessarily trustworthy.

I personally met and got to know some wonderful refugees who were able to survive and lift their lives up through being able to work in this way, where they were unable to work in any other way.

I think what has evolved, in my own experience, is that it has turned into more of a public service of helping with trolleys and parcels, as well as directing traffic in and out of parking bays safely.

I have a small car and parking between two large 4X4 vehicles is truly difficult to reverse out safely without help. I am grateful for this.

I think the term “car guard” itself needs to be redefined and changed as I too believe no one who is unarmed should put their life in danger for this purpose.

I believe people with intent will be successful no matter what...they have a plan and it is what they do.

I agree with Captain Smith that they could have emergency numbers on their phones to call to report an unfolding incident, however to whose cost (financially and personally)?

I hope this helps in some small way to the subject and debate.


Janice Wahl