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Are Unofficial Parking Attendants Out Of Control In Cape Town?

Author: Melissa Cohen
Date: 2017-08-14
Do you ever feel unsafe when you walk to your car at night and you are being harassed by parking attendants? What is the City doing?
There's nothing worse than walking back to your car after a great dinner or a night out and being harassed. This seems to be an everyday occurrence with unofficial people posing as parking attendants after hours. The problem with this is not the fact that these people are supposedly 'looking after' your car, but rather if you refuse to give them money. Many of them get aggravated and  can be potentially dangerous. Women on their own are at risk especially as you  simply don't know when not giving over a few coins will lead them them to become abusive. This is a constant worry for people out and about in the evenings.
Read more about what happens when you don't pay your parking ticket here!

The Opportunist

These parking attendants are the ones who are not contracted by the various companies manning the streets. They are there on their own accord to try and make a quick buck or two. The City of Cape Town is currently subcontracting the streets of the CBD to an independent parking company. Street Parking Solutions is in charge of ensuring that motorists park and pay for spots in the city centre during working hours. The marshals only work until 5pm, thereafter the streets are inhabited by many unemployed people posing as parking attendants. It is almost always when you get back to your car, that these people expect to get some money out of you regardless if they were there the entire time or not.
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What Does The City Have To Say? 

According to Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith,there are no specific by-laws regarding car guards. The Public Places and Prevention of Noise Nuisances By-law does address the issue. This law states that "The City may designate areas where no person shall, in exchange for money or some other thing of value" do the following: (a) direct the operator or occupant of a motor vehicle to a public parking space; or (b) provide any other parking or related services in a public place. Section 2 of the law also stated a variety of prohibited behaviour that's seen as being unlawful.

If any person continues to "beg from a person or closely follow a person after the person has given a negative response", this is considered an offence.

What Is Being Done About This Problem? 

Not very much unfortunately. The problem is that if the city gets rid of these people completely, the issue of poverty will increase. For many of these people, this is their means of income that provides for their family. If there are law enforcement authorities around who feel like these people are being a hazard to citizens, they are removed from the area. "Where complaints are received, the City’s Law Enforcement Department will investigate and take action. Residents can lodge complaints by calling 021 596 1999,"explains Smith. Furthermore, any illegal activities can be alerted to your local Police Services. Smith mentions that people are also advised to keep their belongings and valuables out of sight. This will make you an easy target so its best to just keep those things hidden at all times. So is this the start to an even bigger problem? Or can the city maintain order on this nightmare of a problem? How do you feel about unofficial car guards?
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