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<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>



<p class="font_7">Vrede, Betty’s husband (see previous entry).</p>

<p class="font_7">Born in the war time 1939. “My Grandpa, who was&nbsp;in the war then, told my father to name me Vrede meaning peace. It was a time that peace was needed. Now as you can imagine throughout my life there wasn't much peace, I was teased at school, not only about my name but I also&nbsp; used to stutter” said Vrede.&nbsp; He said that if he could say three words without stuttering it would have been an utter miracle, he used to be very shy and would try and avoid people at all costs. “ Whenever we had guests over I would pretend that there was something wrong with the car, from oil changes to filters, any excuse to hide away from them in my garage. The fact that I had a brand new car or that I had no idea how to ‘fix’ cars was an inside joke to me”.</p>

<p class="font_7">He told me that when he found God he realized what a beautiful name he had. After a few years of believing and spreading the Lords name, he said, his wife randomly said to him “Vrede jy hakkel nie meer nie”. He was completely cured from stuttering. He told me that he loves his wife tremendously. They have a beautiful relationship.</p>

<p class="font_7">He briefly told me about his time working for Eskom.&nbsp;</p>

<p class="font_7">He told me that he doesn't use any medicine, he said that praising God. His wife Betty and himself are very healthy and he goes on to brag about how they love their fun walks at the zoo and such. He did tell me that he has one thing that troubles him and that is heartburn. He laughed and told me that he is not allowed to eat chocolates at night anymore. Laughing even louder he told me how Betty,his wife said to him that he is only allowed to buy chocolate from Woolworths, laughed some more and explained that even if he buys the same chocolate from another shop it gives him heartburn straight away. They work everyday except Sunday. Sunday is their worship day. Their day starts off by fetching two elderly ladies on their way to church. Two sisters. The one lady fell and broke her hip bone, she is 91, her sister used to walked to church every Sunday but when she got home her feet would be full of blood from the walk. Vrede told me that he volunteered to ‘pick them up’ every Sunday and help lift their burden. He told me that Betty and himself love helping children and elderly people in need, “this is our hobby”.</p>

<p class="font_7">He believes that God healed him from his stuttering and in return he has devoted the remainder of his life to worshipping Him.</p>

<p class="font_7">“Laat daar vrede wees”</p>



<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Betty, pronounced [Bee-Tee]. Elizabeth Aletta.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style=""><span class="wixGuard">​</span></span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">I knew straight away that this lady was not going to be like any other car guard that I have ever spoken to. &nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style=""><span class="wixGuard">​</span></span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">She told me that she has an on going struggle with keeping protected from the sun and uses strong sunblock everyday. She said to me that, her main concern about being a car guard was the sun, she otherwise enjoys it, she works everyday. She says that she owes a lot to being a runner, she said it has made her fit and strong, standing all day isn’t easy. She is extremely religious, and feels like this way she can get the word out all day long.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">She smelt so nice, like a real ‘tannie’ and it instantly reminded me of the perfume my grandma religiously wore. I had to ask what perfume she used..”Royal Secret from Estée Lauder” she said. Betty also told me that she gets terrible hay fever and sinus from any other perfume. She told me that even though it is expensive she has decided to keep using Estée Lauder as her chosen skin product. She keeps a Truworths account to make sure she can purchase it when she needs it.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Betty and her husband are from Pretoria. They lived in Ermelo from 1973 and had moved back to Pretoria in 1991 after her husband retired at a power station. He retired as a senior.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Has been working in Pretoria as a car guard for over 2 years now. She has been living in the area for 11 years. She is 77 years old. She tells me that she used to work at First National Bank and proudly said to me that she had 3 branches under her during her career in finance. She said that her age counted against her but that she enjoyed her work and staying busy.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Her husband had been working as a car guard, and when she ‘retired’ she had decided to join him because they didn't want to sit at home.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style="">&nbsp;</p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Betty and her husband Vrede had 4 daughters, unfortunately they had lost their eldest daughter in a car accident, her fiancé also died in the collision. The other 3 children are married, she brags by saying that they are grand parents as well as great grand parents. She has 7 grand children,of which two of her grand children are married and then she has 5 great grand children.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">She mentioned that the fatal accident was caused by a drunken driver, and that he wasn't harmed.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">The Death of her daughter in 1983 feels like yesterday to her. She tells me that her late daughter’s name was Angela, and that its so fitting as she believes that she is an angel now. She said that she now lives in their hearts but she said that she doesn't like to talk about her everyday, it saddens her. She tells me that the day of the funeral she could feel Gods hand of protection and it made them stop crying, and comforted them, but it still hurts and it feels like it happened yesterday.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">She explained to me that both her husband and herself are alive in their community they reach out to other people who hurt because they understand as they have had unthinkable pain in their life and relate.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style=""><span class="wixGuard">​</span></span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">They like to take short trips and relaxing holidays away, when they have down time. They just got back from Bad Plaas. She pointed to her car and told me that it was a ‘gods present’ (GP registration)&nbsp; a gift from their daughter.</span></p>



<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">It’s been awhile since my last post. I have been so busy and the longer I have left it the scarier it has been for me to get going on this project again. You see to me its not easy walking up to people and asking them if I can intrude in their personal space. There is always a fear of rejection when it comes to this project. Out of all the posts I do and you read, there are another 50% I do and then either the guards decide that they don't want to share their story or they afraid to speak to me as they might get into trouble from their ‘superiors’. I have lost the confidence to just walk up to them lately, and to be honest I am gathering the courage to start again. I am sure many of you must understand what it is I am trying to explain. Anyway I was doing a family shoot the other day.… after the shoot I left the venue and walked to my car with all my gear. I was super relieved that Freedom randomly started chatting to me as I had no intention on speaking to a car guard that day.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">Freedom is in his early twenties and from Zimbabwe. He lives in South Africa and has dual citizenship. He stared at my camera and asked me a bunch of questions about how it works its specks and if I could do video recordings with it. Turns out he is an artist himself, he has built a little recording studio where he lives in Olifantsfontein. Then he tells me that he needs to start saving to buy a video camera and has been doing research on which one to buy. He goes on to say that he needs to start recording his work and needs to start up a Youtube channel.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">Naturally I tell him about my project and ask if I could speak to him for awhile and take his photograph.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">He has awesome hair, and was very proud when I complimented it he said that&nbsp; has been growing it for awhile.&nbsp; Freedom whipped out his phone and started playing me some of his tracks that he has recorded. He produces Dancehall music. I was blown away by the quality of his music, I would buy it&nbsp; for sure, secretly I am a huge fan of Sean Paul…</span></p>

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style="">*Dancehall is a genre of Jamaican popular music that originated in the late 1970s. Initially dancehall was a more sparse version of reggae than the roots style, which had dominated much of the 1970s.</span></p>



<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Rudolf, has been a car guard for 3 years. He used to be the manager at Electric Express. He says 600 shops closed in one year, everyone was let go. “ Ek het verkeerd gaan swot, ek sit hier met n HR graad, ek wou nog altyd gehire en gefire het”</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He his a 31 year old,from Carletonville. He has a son and makes sure to pay his maintenance of R1200 every month, he tells me that there isn't even a question. He told me that he only gets to see his son once a month, as he lives with his ex in Springs.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">The ‘Golden Girls’ 4 senior ladies pull up in a parking spot. The are wearing bright polyester flees jumpers. The driver gets out and walks straight up to Rudolf, she pays him before they go into the shop, when I ask why he laughs and says by the time he leaves they will still be doing shopping. He tells me she is here everyday, he knows her well. He works on the same spot everyday. He said that most of these people were his&nbsp; customers at the shop so they know him well. He has been involved in the centre for over 8 years.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">I asked what he did before he worked in retail. He said he worked on the mines, “ek het my blasting ticket en als”. He chose to leave Western deep levels, he said in his opinion that it was either his life or the mine, he explains that he had to dig people out ‘fall of ground’ and that enough was enough. He needed a new start.I t’s not that he wanted to be a car guard he just couldn't find another job he sent his CV out everywhere.&nbsp; “ Dame ek bly in n huis wat R7000 n maand kos ek het nie n keuse nie ek moet hier staan”</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Before I take his photo, he apologizes for not shaving. He tells me that his friend was in a bike accident last night and it was a crazy night. I asked if he was ok and he said he came away with a broken arm but his bike is a goner. He smiles and tells me he used to be a biker but when he got married he had to choose between the bike and his wife. They got married before he became a car guard. He said that she gets a long with his son very well.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He says that he makes enough money to survive, he also owns a creche that is run by his wife and 3 other teachers and a panel beaters. He works half day as a guard.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">In his off time he doesn't say no to a party he loves music and he loves to dance.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He tells me that people treat him well because he is&nbsp; a peoples person, you need to treat people the way you would wanted to be treated. “ As jy heeldag met n dik bek staan gaan mense dit optel en dit gaan oor hoe jy met mense werk”. Then he started asking me questions…”nou waarmee sukkel jy” ? I found this such a typical HR trait, and told him a bit about myself.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He told me that the strangest thing that has happened to him during his time as a car guard is when an old lady “ambushed” him….She had asked him to come talk to a group of woman..when he got there it was a church group of over 300.</span></p>

Oom Deon

Oom Deon

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">When I stopped at the parking lot of ‘Gezina Stad’ as the locals call it, I was super confused, did I manage to time warp myself to Texas? This amazingly interesting looking car guard was standing there over looking an insane amount of cars, like a scene out of a western movie.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">I obviously walked straight up to him and started chatting to him. His name is ‘Oom Deon’ and I didn't even ask, I knew he was the leading man of the lot. He had such a strong, yet calm demeanor.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Oom Deon has been working as a car guard at Gezina Centre for 20 years, he tells me that over the years he has seen a lot of things, good and bad. He tells me that these days the bad guys come armed, although he said that he had never feared for his life. He quickly reminds me that one should never try and be a hero and that these guys will shoot if you get in their way “as hulle wapens uithaal en jy gee nie pad nie, glo ek hulle gaan jou skiet”</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He worked at Nissan’s factory in Rosslyn for 13 years, he then took a severance package when they offered one, “ Ek het die pakket gevat, toe hul dit aanbied” and became a car guard.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He is married and has 3 children, his youngest was still at school when he became a car guard. They are all grown now and it is just his wife and himself that live in Gezina. Deon’s wife is a “huisvrou” and she looks after their grand kids.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He told me he is originally from “die Boland” in Westen Cape, he said that he prays for god to show him a way back to the Cape but there is no work down there. When he finished school he joined the correctional services, he tells me they had transferred him ‘up’ here. That was back in 1973. He worked there for 6 years. He tells me that it was their job to keep an eye on the prisoners and that things were very different back then.. He looked at me knowing that I had no idea what the inside walls of prison looked like, and told me to watch the movie “vyfster” he says that it depicts the situation of the correctional service he had done. “As jy will sien wat daar binne aangaan, kry vir jou die fliek, dit is identies wat daar aangaan, identies.” I found a video on youtube if you want to watch it <a dataquery="#textLink_iqbcdj5p"></a> (I watched half of it and it made me feel young, as I had never heard of it before, all though the theme tune sounded familiar).</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">I asked him if it was difficult and he quickly said no, he told me that one&nbsp; needs to go for training in Kroonstad at the college for correctional services for 6 months and then they place you at the different stations.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He told me how the prisoners come across as normal ‘people’ to him, he was never scared and some even seemed to be perfect gentlemen. “Ek moet se hulle het hulle gedra”</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">I enjoyed listening to him reminisce, he spoke about a man, a millionaire called Ronald Cohen. He was charged for murdering his wife. Oom Deon tells me that he spoke to him many times and he seemed to be a very ‘normal guy’. You never really know anyone. You can read the murder mystery of Ronald Cohen here <a dataquery="#textLink_iqbcdj5p1"></a></span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">While we were talking, his walkie-talkie joined the conversation, he lifted his yellow vest and showed off his 3 walkie-talkies. He told me that he is well connected and that he knows everyone in “die Moot”. The one is for community service (GPF) connection, the other one is to connect with the security and the police and the other one is for the guards.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Deon said that they pay R40 a day to be guards at the centre. He told me that he doesn't really understand why.On average, on a good day he takes home R200.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He tells me that his day was made the other day when someone came to him and told him how they were glad that he was there and that they appreciate him and they gave him a nice ‘donation’.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He says the sun is his worst enemy in the summer and that he needs to wear sunblock.&nbsp; But its ok in the winter and he quickly explains that he has excellent health and that he only wears his sunglasses for the sun, “ Ek is darem nog nie op die brille en pille nie”.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He says its hard on him when people treat them bad. The forms of thank you accepted by Oom Deon is food, cooldrinks, sweets and money.</span></p>



<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">I recently had a photoshoot at Wollies Animal Shelter in Wolmer, Pretoria- North. After the shoot I met Gert. He works as a car guard at the shelter every Saturday, and public holidays. He only works for tips at Wollies. His daughter has the doggy parlour at the shelter, he explains to met that he wouldn't be-able to get here if she didn’t. He had a stroke a few years ago. Gert then told me that he has a drivers license but he doesn't want to be behind the wheel of a car, he told me this in a responsible tone.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style=""><span class="wixGuard">​</span></span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">I asked Gert what he does during the week and he told me that he works in Hercules close to where he lives as a car guard at a crafters place twice a week. He explained to me that he in fact is a pensioner, but the pension he receives is not enough so he relies on these jobs for extra income “elke sent help, wat is die pension van ons?”&nbsp; They had asked him to come and help as a guard as they have another guard that needs off days so he fills in when he is off. They pay him R120 per day, and he says that he doesn't make much more than that on tips. He works from 8:30 -17:30.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He used to work for Sasol all his life before he had a stroke. This was in 2004. He tells me that he still has problems with his hands and feet, but he is fully mobile “Ek loop die wereld vol”</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He told me that he grew up in Kameeldrift West, on the mountain, just off the road heading towards Hartbeespoort Dam . I was kind of in disbelieve, turns out Gert and I went to the same primary school (obviously not the same year). He spoke about his childhood and neighbours, and took me back to mine.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style=""><span class="wixGuard">​</span></span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">It was so great listening to him talk about the ‘town’ and how great it was to grow up with the Magalies basically in your back yard. If you were to go there now, no one would believe the amazing childhood we had,it has changed, everything is different except that beautiful mountain and the blue gum trees. My sister and myself took a trip down memory lane a few years ago and went to have a look at our childhood home, we were disappointed. The amazing place we loved and once knew didn't exist anymore. They say you should never go back.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Anyway i just found it so random that we had so much in common and realized once again how small the world is.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style=""><span class="wixGuard">​</span></span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Gert is married, he says that he will never leave his wife “sy kan mos nie meer loop nie”. He tells me that they are going back to hospital on Monday,&nbsp; she has been struggling to find a spot at the hospital for a knee operation that she desperately needs. “Ons is mos ou mense ons gaan eers dood gaan voor hul ons help, 5 jaar nou al wat hul ons rond neuk". He also said that if they could go to Steve Biko they would have been helped ages ago but they need to go to the government hospital that covers their area, Hercules. The hospital they need to go to is the Kalafong Hospital, a public hospital in Pretoria, Gauteng. The hospital is situated on the western outskirts of Pretoria in the suburb of Atteridgeville. He looked hopeful and tired at the same time and told me how they have made promises that they don't keep, she was supposed to have her first knee done in December.. Gert explains to me how difficult it is for his wife not to be mobile. They both live in a granny flat behind his daughters home. He tells me how his wife can barely walk..”sy gan so bietjie aan met die ‘kierie’s’”.He said that If she doesn't have something to hold on to she cant walk. He sadly laughed and then said that its old age getting to them.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">I told him that it was nice of him to come here and ‘help’ as a car guard on Saturdays at the animal shelter. He told me that he needs to keep busy “as ek by die huis sit gaan ek ook net dood gaan, ek moet besig bly, ek kan nie by die huis sit nie”</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style=""><span class="wixGuard">​</span></span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Gert has been a car guard for almost a year, I asked him in his experience as a guard what he thought of people in general. He responded by telling me this: “ Jy kry vieslike mense hoor, jy kry darm maar snaakse mense” he said that some people treat him like he doesn't exist until something goes wrong.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style=""><span class="wixGuard">​</span></span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">I asked if I could take his picture for my project, he was wearing sunglasses, and told me how he had cataract surgery in both his eyes. He bragged how well he can see now.</span></p>



<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Ackwell is from Chipinge in Zimbabwe. He now lives in olievenhoutbosch, He has a wife back home and a little baby that is only 5 months old. His son’s name is Gamuchirai, his name means Accept. His wife,sister and child live together with his mother in Zimbabwe, his mother is 69 years old and he tell me that she is the strongest woman he knows.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style=""><span class="wixGuard">​</span></span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He came to South Africa in 2007 and became a car guard. I asked him why a car guard and he told me with a obvious voice that it is the only thing he can do as he doesn't have ‘papers’. He has no choice at the moment he needs to care for his family and obtaining papers without an invitation of work is almost impossible. He told me that he visits his family as much as he can. I asked him if they don't ask questions at the border when he comes and goes, and he said that he has a passport so he can just come and go. a taxi back home costs him R550 one way. He said he cant take the taxi all the way in because the ‘thotsies’ when they come in to Zimbabwe, so he takes a bus from the border. I asked him what he thinks about the situation in Zim at the moment, Ackwell looked at me and said “nothing has changed since 2008”. He also told me that more and more Zimbabweans are coming over as there is no work for them over there. I asked why South Africa, I myself dont always understand as we have so many struggles in this country related to joblessness, I asked him why not Botswana or another neighbouring country? When he replied he looked exhausted as if he had gone through all the options in his head a million times. He told me straight what he thought about Botswana “that country is too small”. When he visits home he tries to stay for a month, the rest of the time he works everyday to save money.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style=""><span class="wixGuard">​</span></span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Before he started working here at this spot in John Voster behind at the Sport shop area, he worked at Builders Warehouse. He said there were too many guards there and there wasn't enough money to be made. He smiled and told me how it was difficult to make the move as when he started here he was allocated to this spot and it was called a “dead area” under the guards, nobody wanted to work here. The other guards all rotate to keep it fair, almost they way they rotate waiter sections at Restaurants to keep everyone happy. Ackwell wasn't allowed to rotate, this was part of his agreement when he started here. He laughed and told me how proud he is that he’s spot is now very popular and how he ‘advertised’ so people would park there. Of course he is sticking to his guns and doesn't want to rotate, he said all the guards are wanting too swap with him these days.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He starts at 8am in the mornings and makes sure the lot is tidy.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style=""><span class="wixGuard">​</span></span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style=""><span class="wixGuard">​</span>I asked him what was the worst part of this job, he told me how some people arrive there angry or upset from something that happened before they got here. “someone once even tried to bump me with their car”, I asked him how he deals with that kind of behavior, he said that he just ignores them until they go away..</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">While we were chatting he interrupted the conversation by saying “ let me help these guys to come out, wait for me” I could tell that he took his job seriously and I respected him for that.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He came back and pointed to an office park in the distance, “a man working there had offered me a job as a driver for that company”,he told me.&nbsp; He explained how he was saving up to go and do his license back in Zimbabwe. He seemed determined. I asked him how much it would cost him and how much he has saved up so far.&nbsp; He told me how its expensive and with traveling back and lessons and all it would be wise for him to save up a thousand american dollars, he added that Zimbabwe now use the US $ as currency and had a strange look when he said it, almost as if he was embarrassed. He said that he had saved up R8k so far, but with the Rand being so weak against the Dollar he has been set back even more. I looked at him wondering how on earth he managed to save up so much already and I realized that this was something he had to do, he had no choice. This determination made me so aware of how you can make it happen if you really wanted to even if life had given you no open doors. Did I mention that Ackwell is 27. I found myself thinking very highly of him. When I was 27 my biggest struggle was over some boy and how I didn't feel like doing my college ‘homework’.</span></p>



<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Piet was born and bred in Tembisa, a large township situated to the north of Kempton Park. He told me in a proud voice that he was born at the Tembisa Hospital. Piet is 36, merely a few years older than me. Piet told me that his parents didn't have enough money to take care of him growing up and that he went to live with his grand parents when he started school. He shared some of his memories growing up in a village in Polokwane with me. He had a few good memories here and there and spoke of his grandfather fondly “ that was a good mandala, he always took care of me”. He told me that his grandfather was a bus driver and how he always wished that he could ride on the bus with him but never did. His&nbsp; grand parents looked after a few children and they used to do everything together, “ we go everywhere together always” he told me. Then Piet told me that he never liked living in the village, “ I was a city boy, I missed the city” he explained that back then it was very different in the village where he grew up. He told me how they had to make a fire to cook every meal, and how far they had to walk (+-2km) to get water. “Things have changed now” he laughed.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Piet returned to Tembisa when he finished school.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Piet has been a car guard for 5 years. Before he became a car guard, he used to work as a painter, waterproofer on a project based contract. When the contract ended and no new work came in his friend suggested that he become a car guard, and so he did.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Piet has a child called Gift he is 6 years old&nbsp; and he lives in Polokwane with his Mother. Piet’s ex. He explains that they were never married and that he was young. The last time he saw his child was in 2014, but he tells me that he calls often and that his sister lives close-by his son.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">I asked him what he does to stay warm while he watches cars all day (it was freezing when we spoke), he told me that they have a kettle to boil warm water but that he needs to bring his own coffee, milk and sugar if he wants to drink something.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">I asked him if anything made him angry in the last week here in the parking lot. He responded with;“ Some people I see each and every day and each and everyday I show them parking spots but they cant even give me a sent,even R1 is something”</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">He then told me that other people make up for this by paying him a monthly fee.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">I asked him if he would like an instant photo of himself and asked him when was the last time he had his photo taken. To my surprise he told me that his uncle had a party for his child in Tembisa last month and he hired a photographer, he said that they were just waiting for the pictures.&nbsp;</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">I took a photo of him and he loved it.&nbsp;</span></p>



<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">This is Richard. Richard was a close friend and colleague of Andries. I have been back to see him a few times to find out more about the night that Mandala’s life was taken and to give him the photograph. Richard has orchestrated all the guards to chip in and contribute something towards the funeral. In my experience I found him to be a very sensitive and sweet soul. There was something in his eyes that felt familiar. I am grateful for the kindness that Richard showed me and how he has kept me in the loop.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style=""><span class="wixGuard">​</span></span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Richard has been working here at the Bylsbridge PnP for over 10 years. He tells me again how shocked he was when ‘Mandala’ didn't show up for work, he also said “ I am not feeling oriaat “ he is very saddened by this loss he has known Andries for 6 years and he tells me that he was a good man an how he always uplifted everyone during hard times.</span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style=""><span class="wixGuard">​</span></span></p>

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style="">Richard originally comes from Chipinge, Zimbabwe. He used to work for Zimplats , platinum mining group in Zimbabwe.&nbsp; Richard is 34, married with 3 small children, he first came over to South Africa in 2006. His wife and children still live in Zimbabwe. Richard tells me how expensive it is to get passports for all the children but that he would love for them to join him in South Africa. He visits them every 4months. The rest of the time he works 7 days and has off on the 8th day then starts over again. I asked Richard what he does on his off days he told me ”I practice driving, I want to become a cab driver”. He tells me that he is attempting his license soon.&nbsp;</span></p>

All images © 2024 Jeanne van Heerden

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