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Their lives on the line day in and day out

How many of us know the story behind how car guards came to do this demanding and even life-threatening job?

We entrust our cars in the hands of a car guard while we go shopping and often assume they do not come from affluent or even prosperous backgrounds.

But who are these people really, and will it help us have a better understanding of their struggles if we knew their history? Carel du Buisson, a local car guard nearing his 60s, tells his story of how he became a ‘Guardian of the Chariots’, as per the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority.

Du Buisson did his mandatory army service as a medic in 1985 and 1986 while based in Angola. He also worked at a military hospital. He then worked as a toolmaker and afterwards as a fitter and turner. He also worked in the post office for some time and mentioned he lost his right index finger in a freak accident in 1993. This meant many hitchhiking trips to the hospital along with more complications afterwards. This is aside from a ‘wire’ in his knee which he got after he broke it during a fall.

In the meantime, he got married. Eventually, in 2006 he was retrenched and during the pandemic, he lost his next job opportunity. He began working as a car guard once again. Du Buisson explained he worked as a car guard before and decided this was once again the best way to care for his family.

Aside from his vast experience in the profession, Du Buisson and his wife care for their four children along with several foster children.

“It is not necessarily career-building work, but I had to take care of my family,” said Du Buisson.

He noted the job requires having to deal with many insults daily along with a low salary. He mentions instances where people have asked him not to greet them as he is inferior to them.

“We are here to deliver a service. We try to help where we can. When a person is struggling we will help them out of the car or help them carry their bags and we often bring people trolleys.

His daughter, Shanique van Zyl stated, “Despite the cold weather and the difficulty my dad has with his hand and knee, he is still on his post every day. People have asked me if am I not ashamed to have a father who is a car guard and I told them I am proud, my father is providing for his family. He is an intelligent person and I always say if my dad can’t fix something it cannot be fixed.”

Du Buisson stated they have a great responsibility as people entrust their vehicles to them. He mentioned instances where he prevented a driver from driving off after an accident.

He continued that a car guard can never be sure of his life.

“It is a dangerous job due to crime, not to mention when people are driving past the speed limit, or drunk and when there is traffic.”

He added he has even received threats against his life.

“There are many ugly things we have to face out there, but we are there to fight crime.”

He added it is not an inferior job despite the bad treatment he receives from people. He still has to pay the same price as everyone else for groceries, electricity and every other necessary item a person needs to survive.

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