Joburg struggles to juggle street hustlers

Window washers wash a motorist's windscreen at a traffic light in Pretoria on March 14, 2012. Picture GALLO IMAGES
Window washers wash a motorist's windscreen at a traffic light in Pretoria on March 14, 2012. Picture GALLO IMAGES
The City of Johannesburg is struggling to enforce by-laws that will eliminate dancers‚ jugglers and window washers from street intersections.

These hustlers are increasingly becoming a nuisance in many intersections of the City of Johannesburg and the council has very few options to deal with them.

The Times spoke to some of the dancers on the streets of Joburg who said they make as much as R2‚500 a day from their moves.

But this fortune is made in contravention of by-laws that prohibit loitering on the streets and standing in the middle of the road.

Each time the city arrests these people‚ they are taken to the police station and police release them as their crime is not deemed serious.

The Johannesburg Metro Police Department‚ which launched Operation Ke Mo Lao (It Is Law) in 2015 in a bid to clear the street intersections‚ says its efforts have been fruitless.

“The biggest problem we have is that the instructions from national police are that there is nothing they can do; that crime is not classified as a serious crime‚” said spokesperson Edna Mamonyane.

“When our officers drop them at the police station‚ the police just let them go.”

It was difficult to even issue them with fines because most do not have addresses or any identification documents.

Law enforcers said the presence of street dealers made it difficult to differentiate real window washers or beggars from those committing crime on unsuspecting motorists.

One motorist‚ Thomas Mangatane‚ hoped to see all street dealers removed from the intersections.

“They are troublesome. Sometimes you are coming from a car wash and your car is clean and they just throw water at your windscreen and mess it up … Even the dancers cause problems. There is a risk they can be hit by a car‚" said Mangatane.

This was the case for Patrick Mngomezulu‚ 31‚ who juggles oranges on the corner of Barry Hertzog and Empire Road.

“I got hit by a car while doing my tricks in Fourways. I have scars on my head for this. But there are no jobs and this is the only way I can make a living‚” Mngomezulu said.

On a good day‚ he makes R180 but admits times are tough.

Another motorist said he was frustrated by the street dealers.

“These people become cross when you don’t pay and become aggressive. This morning‚ one of them actually told me f**k you because I did not want to pay‚” he said.

Mandla Mahlangu‚ 32‚ is a window washer on Empire and Victoria Road and believes he is making an honest living.

“I respect people. I do not wash their windscreens if they refuse‚” he said.

He lost his job four years ago. He first tried collecting scrap but later turned to windscreen washing.

On a good day he makes about R90 but as The Times joined him on his day on the job on Monday‚ he had not made even R10 by the afternoon.

Mahlangu said he was aware that some thugs did smash-and-grabs at intersections. His biggest fear was being pinned for such a crime.

“I try my best to ensure nothing goes wrong in this intersection because the police know that I’m always here‚” he said.

Another growing feature is pantsula dancers at intersections.

The Times spoke to a group on Bolton and Cradock Avenue in Rosebank.

The four – Mlungisi Ncube‚ Lindelani Rampama‚ Sphiwe Mgedleni and Thabang Mokolokoxo‚ are all high school pupils from Alexandra.

They chose their spot next to a mall strategically. They make sure that they are on the streets on pay days.

On average‚ they make R2‚500 a day. Once split into four‚ this means they get R625 each. This is R5‚000 a month if they work twice a week.

According to Payscale‚ this is far higher than the average salary of a cashier‚ which is about R3‚505 a month.

But the JMPD says the only way to remove people from intersections is to stop giving them money.


Source: TMG Digital.

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