Pretoria - Park your car illegally in the streets of Pretoria at your own risk, the Tshwane Metro Police Department has warned.
The department has unleashed several tow trucks, which have been impounding scores of vehicles daily to bring law and order to the inner city streets.
Department spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba on Thursday issued a stern warning to motorists, saying those who parked their vehicles illegally risked having them towed away.
Offending motorists would be fined R1 590; there was also a R64 daily storage fee that had to be paid before the car would be released.
Mahamba made it clear that the metro police would not tolerate illegal parking and would impound all vehicles parked where they should not be, irrespective of who they belonged to.
“Those who park in bus bays will have their cars impounded and pay the amount of R1 590 with the additional storage fees if they did not fetch the car on the same day.”
No one was above the law, he said. “This also applies to the SAPS, South African Defence Force and our own members.”
And true to the department’s no-nonsense approach, the trucks have been impounding vehicles across the CBD throughout the day in recent weeks. Vehicles belonging to journalists covering cases in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, and those of members of the legal fraternity have not been spared.
Motorists have complained after finding their vehicles gone, blaming the City for failing to provide adequate parking in the busy city centre. Some said they were made to compete for few parking spaces.
Others blamed car guards for their unfortunate circumstances, saying they did not warn them not to park where they would ultimately find their vehicles gone. The guards were suspected to be in cahoots with the tow truck drivers.
Motorists accused them of luring motorists into a snare, in addition to being blamed for the city’s biggest criminal activity – theft out of motor vehicles.
But Mahamba said: “We advise members of the public not to be misled by car guards to park anywhere. Rather obey the law by parking legally using facilities that are available.”
Moses Donga, a car guard on Madiba Street, said he had helped motorists park on the street since 1997.
At the time, police did not want car guards in the capital.
“I have been helping motorists outside the court and the Pretoria News offices for a long time.
“They know me and they trust me and I am happy with that because this is how I feed and care for my children.
“It bothers me to hear that some youngsters are robbing and stealing from motorists by posing as car guards.
“I hope that they get arrested because their actions cause grown men like myself to not be trusted by some motorists.”
Donga said back in the day they were arrested by patrolling officers and made to spend a night in the police station just for standing in the streets and waving at motorists.
He said these days young men just showed up and did as they pleased.
Four car guards were recently arrested for theft out of vehicles and robbery amid police warnings to unsuspecting motorists.
Sunnyside SAPS spokesperson Daniel Mavimbela said three others have already been convicted and sentenced to three years and 18 months for committing the same crimes.
Mavimbela said some suspects were caught red-handed. Part of the problem, he said, was that the City did not have a by-law which could add bite to operations meant to curb the scourge.
“For one to be a car guard, a person must qualify as a security officer and be accredited by the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority. However, that is not the case with the guards operating in our streets.
“Motorists must avoid driving around with their valuables on car seats, especially where they can be spotted by criminals.
“Do not wait to get to your destination to move your valuables to the boot. “Criminals can see you while you put your laptop bag away and by the time you return to the car, they have broken into it already.”
* Motorists who find their vehicles gone are urged to contact the Tshwane Metro Police Department on 012 358 1905 or 012 358 5917 before reporting them stolen as they may have been impounded.