top of page

The Car Guard


The Car Guard Chronicles

"A car guard is an informally employed person in charge of finding parking spots for cars and ensuring the safety of those cars until their owners return".

I hope my images will inspire us to be more tolerant and understanding towards each other. This project aims to document the everyday life of car guards in South Africa. I believe that just a bit of humility can change someones day. I believe in being treated with dignity no matter who you are or what you do in this world. I observe the beauty in the survival and the creativity of the entrepreneur. I have hope. Always.

Tomorrow is another day..

Thank you so much for joining me on this journey and for reading and viewing. 

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts or mail me directly.



Andries Bylsbridge 26042016_IG.jpg
Franzina_Irene market 02-03-2016_IG.jpg
www.shotbyjeanne.com_Erika Car guard za.
Read More


<p class="font_7">Erika 58 has been a car guard at the centurion licensing department for over 4 years. She lives in the Reeds, and is from Potgietersrus originally. She used to be a manager at&nbsp; Geen &amp; Richards a furniture shop in Midrand. She said that they closed shops down and she couldn't find another job so she became a car guard. She got a package from work, payed her debt and bought a car, a Ford Fiesta. She drives all the guards to work.</p>
<p class="font_7">The opportunity to work at this spot came about because she has known Jaco the supervisor for over 8 years. She asked him if he could organize her a job and he said yes. She said they met at a restaurant and that they are just very close friends.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="font_7">Her mouth kept pulling to the side while we spoke. So.. I asked her why, then she told me all about the stroke she had 7 months ago.&nbsp; She told me that she thinks it may be caused by stress. She said that she used to get epileptic fits here in the parking lot “party dae het ek sommer net so ingesak net hier” she is on medication and tells me that the more she tries and contol the face pulling the more it keeps pulling. she says she wants to go see the doctor again to see if they cant give her something for her face.</p>
<p class="font_7">She said she uses blood thinning medication and told me that to her it felt like rat poison. She has no choice, her blood is thick. She tells me that after the stroke she cant stop moving her feet and arms move involuntarily&nbsp;</p>
<p class="font_7">She tells me she has a son, and that she is a grandmother of two. Her son lives in Krugersdorp. She thinks that her son isn't happy about her being a car guard “maar n werk is n werk mamma”. She does see them often and loves them to bits.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="font_7">She tells me she was divorced many years ago 15 years or so, her ex husband loved woman to much. She then hints that Jaco and herself might be seeing each other. &nbsp;</p>
<p class="font_7">Erika is the only female in the shared house they live in, she said that she prefers living with men “ek bly eerder saam 20 mans voor ek saam n vrou bly, mans is nie moeilikheid nie”. Everyone makes turns to cook food in the house, she said that she likes doing the dishes so she does that, but that they have a cleaning lady that does the washing and she irons too. She told me that they live in Jako’s mom’s house. The house has 5 rooms and that they each have their own room. “Ons deel 2 badkamers maar ek is gewoond om met mans te deel by nou so nee wat dit is nie erg nie”.</p>
<p class="font_7">She tells me being a car guard isn't a bad job but that its a hard job.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="font_7">They are busy here, each car guard earns more or less R150 a day. They don't pay to stand here. She also tells me she does other stuff too. One of the other car guards started charging people to stand in the cue for them, then they all started doing it. It seems like a great way to earn double what they are making daily. They keep their spots from 5:30 in the morning.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="font_7">If you need to renew&nbsp; your license you can just ask one of the car guards to keep your place in line.</p>



<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">Tafadzwa name means "we are pleased” in Shona. He is from Chipinge Zimbabwe.</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">He spoke very little English, and said he has a very hard time understanding people in South Africa as he never went to school. I think what he tried to tell me was that he used to work on a farm in Zimbabwe but I am not sure. He stuttered and his jaw locked a few times while we were chatting. I tried not to make him more nervous than he already was, as I felt that it might be making it worse.</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">He told me that he was 27 and has been a car guard since October 2016, so it is all very new to him. From what he had told me, I gathered that he was an orphan and that his aunty kept an eye over him but that he had to pretty much fend for himself, it seemed as if someone he knew, helped him to come to South Africa. Because of the language barrier we had it was hard for me to understand him. I really wish that I was able to he seemed like such a nice guy I felt like he might have been one of those people with extremely good energy… you kinda know it when you are around them, but you never mention it.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">While we were speaking (or trying to) a bee landed on his cap. The bee just stayed there. sitting listening like a fly on a wall.. I decided it must be great luck and that only good things would be on Tafadzwa’s future path. of course I had no way of communicating this to him other than flapping my hands around and trying to show him what I wanted to say. I am sure I looked mad.</span></p>



<p class="font_8" style=""><span class="wixGuard">​</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">When I asked him if he was from Pretoria, he laughed and said; “no man Durban, I am Indian. (Duh-hehe) - I have lost my accent because I was in sales (industrial power tools), you learn to speak differently in sales”.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">Allen lives with his daughter, he is single.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">“I cant get a job for the life of me. Its not like they even say unsuccessful, they don't even bother to reply” He told me that his daughter has sent out his CV to just about every place under the sun. She is studying industrial psychology and is in her 4th year.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">I have a code 11 drivers license, so I also apply for driving jobs. He explained to me that he felt as if he could not compete with the youngsters that are all working for half the salary. He explained to me that it made perfect business sense. Long term the company would save by hiring someone with little experience for less, taking time to train them instead of hiring someone with experience for R15k per month. He said that because he was not black he felt like he had no chance of getting a job.&nbsp; I even used to give out my cv here in the parking lot.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">“I am prepared to work but its just not out there”.&nbsp; He told me that his daughter said he could stay at home and that she would take care of him, he told me that he was not one to stay at home. What ever I make here I keep for personal expenses. I don't pay rent at my daughter. So this job really helps me.</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">I am already 50, it counts against me.I feel that I am making an honest living as a car guard.</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style="">&nbsp;</p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">We chatted for another while and he told me about his complicated separation from his ex-wive. She left him for his best friend, then he said “ to make things more complicated, my best friend is my daughter’s father in law”. He also told me that there were no more grudges or ill feelings, “what is done is done”.&nbsp; They were married for 22 years. He added that the biggest loss, was the years he had lost. “Time you could never get back”, he said.</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">A customer leaves without looking his way, he looks at me disappointed. “We understand that you know how to drive your car, all we are trying to do is earn a living”. Then he says “ I have some customers like these, and then I have some great customers”. He tells about a man that used to bring him a checkers bag full of groceries every month.</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">He has a little pen and book in his pocket. When I asked him about it, he explained to me that he felt it is part of his job to write down suspicious behavior and registration no’s.&nbsp; I thought that he was amazing.</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">Allen said he has seen it all guarding cars. Some people leave their laptops with open windows, they even leave their children in the car to go shop.</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">He wore a ‘symbol of light’ bracelet. He told me it encourages&nbsp; light, happiness, prosperity and safety. “I used to be very into religion. I used to pierce and everything”.</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">He assures me that he likes to be independent and that he hasn't “given up the good fight”.</span></p>


  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle
  • Facebook - Black Circle

Special thanks to Instax Fuji Film for sponsoring film and Olympus for the dictaphone.

Every guard gets to instantly keep the memory of our chat. 




The stories told are by no means my own. They are not researched facts, they have only been written down as told to me. I do not intend to insult or accuse anyone by the words used in this blog. Please contact me directly.

All images © 2024 Jeanne van Heerden

bottom of page