Law enforcement officers clamped down on illegal car washers in Milnerton and Dunoon last week.
Officers issued R1200 worth of fines, during last Wednesday’s operations, for violations of city water restrictions. Leading the team was Inspector George Gomis, and Tabletalk was invited to tag along.
The operation started at the Killarney taxi rank where law enforcement fined Sonwabile Betye R200 for running a car wash without a permit. Mr Betye was visibly upset and declined to comment. But one of his employees, Zuko Mbana, said they did not understand why they were being shut down because they used water from Rietvlei.
“Wegothroughsomuch trouble to get this water. We used to use tap water from the taxi rank, but we have since stopped because of the restrictions. I don’t understand why, even though we use the water from the vlei, we are told this is wrong,” said Mr Mbana.
He said the car wash was his only source of income and the raid had set them back a day. The officers poured the water from a 200-litre barrel, and two buckets down the drain.
Then the blitz moved into Dunoon’s Usasaza Street, where two car washers fled as officers closed in. The car washers left buckets and a bin which they had used to carry water.
When officers asked a crowd of onlookers if anyone knew who ran the car wash, they were met with silence.
The water used at this car wash was potable, coming from nearby taps. An officer had to close one of the taps that had been left running.
Law enforcement officers then poured all the water in the buckets down the drain and confiscated the buckets.
The third stop was on the corners of Waxberry and Usasaza streets where a man was fined R500 for using potable water using two buckets to wash a red BMW. The owner of the vehicle was fined a further R500 for not having a licence disc on his car.
In Joe Slovo, a man was spotted using buckets and a hosepipe to wash two cars. But the officers found he was using water from a well-point and grey water from his washing machine.
The owner of this car wash, Tony Ugwu, 30, said the well-point had cost him R15 000, but it was worth it because it had helped him save his business and keep food on the table.
A few blocks down the road, Abongile Xilongile, was not so lucky: he was fined R500 for operating a car wash without a permit. Ward councillor Joy McCarthy said it was illegal to take water from a vlei, a river or the ocean without a permit.
“To take water from the river or vlei as well as the ocean, permits are needed. The water in the river and vlei are under the jurisdiction of national government, as is the well point water. National government condones well-point water harvesting for private use, but if it is resold, a water licence is also required,” she said.