Car guard gives Braam motorists safety tips

ON DUTY: Makhosonke Solomon Mahlangu has been guarding this since car for 12 hours because the motorist didn't tell him he'd be spending the night.

Makhosonke Solomon Mahlangu aka Skotch, who works and sleeps on the streets of Braamfontein from Monday to Sunday, believes it is his responsibility to ensure that every car he is guarding is safe, and so are the motorists.

He shares a few guidelines of how to keep safe when in Braam or driving around the area:

  • Keep your bag on your right side, next to the driver’s door or underneath the passenger seat to minimise being a victim of a smash-and-grab.
  • Always make sure your car is locked when you step out of it, as immobilisers can be overridden – manually check the door is, indeed, locked.
  • Keep whatever you need with you under the front seat, instead of having to open the boot, as this makes you a target for criminals.

He explained, “It takes a criminal two minutes, when I go for a toilet break or to help someone else park, for them to use a… [sparkplug] to break your window and get into your boot and take what they want.”

Mahlangu also urged motorists to give car guards an idea of how long they would be, because they end up guarding one or two cars all night without knowing when the motorists will return.

“I have been here since yesterday at 2.20pm and have been guarding these three cars since 6pm, it is now the next day [9am] and I got no indication from them that they will be staying the night. I cannot leave their cars here because they are my responsibility. If they had told me, at least I could have made a plan with the other guys to help out,” said Mahlangu.

He said since the beginning of January, seven cars have been stolen and broken into on De Beer Street. He has also been offered a R500 bribe by three armed men who wanted to steal a Mercedes-Benz he was looking after, to which he refused and called his co-workers for backup.

He expressed his dismay at the rude treatment he and other car guards were often subjected to by motorists, who spend the entire night at a local restaurant or hotel and leave without paying the guards for their efforts, and also rudely brush them away. He urged motorists to consider the danger car guards faced when deciding how much to tip.

Mahlangu has been a car guard since July last year after a business venture failed. His peers said he was the best car guard because of the care he took of motorists and for never being willing to compromise his morals by accepting bribes.

Mahlangu said, “Since I have been working here I have never had a car stolen or broken into on my watch. I am good at security and, right now, I am just looking for the right partner to start my business again.”

Mashadi Letwaba

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