Johannesburg - Fed-up Bedfordview, Kensington and Edenvale residents took over the Bruma intersection, which is infamous for its window washers, on Saturday.
The six washers who had set themselves up there disappeared as soon as they saw the group advancing.
The residents held up posters and handed out flyers to motorists, telling them not to support the window washers and advising them on how to approach the intersection.
Organiser Leon de Bruin said window washers had been responsible for attempted murder, assault, damage to cars, threats, intimidation, antagonism and insults.
“They have also invaded nearby houses and beaten residents. They engage in provocative behaviour, use drugs, and are a risk to all motorists. It’s a matter of time before someone gets killed. We are tired of feeling threatened every time we approach this intersection,” he said.
Muzi Mazibuko, a Bez Valley Community Police Forum (CPF) member, said everyone had had enough.
“They are the cause of a lot of the crime around here. They pretend to be helpful, but if you open the car windows, they grab your belongings and keys. We want them out,” he said.
Councillor Neuren Pietersen said the window washers were contravening the by-laws and the public safety department would need to get involved.
Mayoral committee member responsible for public safety Michael Sun said that although the city was sympathetic to the plight of the poor people who washed windows to get some money, they were known to be problematic. Also, criminals were posing as washers to commit smash and grabs.
“Although we are sympathetic, the laws have to be complied with,” Sun said. “We will not tolerate lawlessness. We must ensure the safety of our motorists and will be conducting many more blitzes in Bruma, Sandton and other hot spots. We are also going to be taking a more holistic approach in future. I will be getting the city’s social development department involved to see if we can offer them skills development and training.
“We will also be talking to the court prosecutors to make them take this offence more seriously,” he said.
CPF sector chair for the Bruma area Rob Crawford said the SAPS and Joburg metro police department had arrested many window washers but the National Prosecuting Authority threw most of the cases out of court.
“When the JMPD launched Operation Ke Molao in 2015 to deal with street vendors, window washers and beggars, some 46 window washers were arrested. Of that number, one was fined and one was convicted. The rest were withdrawn. The spate of arrests eased off because the JMPD felt it could no longer waste their time.”
The Cyrildene CPF appealed to the chief prosecutor, advocate Phumza Futshane, last month, calling on her to partner with the Cleveland CPF to prosecute window washers.
NPA spokesperson Phindi Louw said the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions would meet the chief prosecutors of the Gauteng Local Division to discuss how these matters should be handled going forward.