Windscreen washers: We work as informants

Windscreen washers say they work as informants for police and should not be labeled as criminals.

FILE: JMPD vehicle. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - While Johannesburg Metro Police increase efforts to clamp down on smash and grabs by arresting beggars at intersections, some windscreen washers say they don't understand why authorities want to remove them, as they act as an informal neigbourhood watch.

Authorities are cracking down on beggars, windscreen washers, pamphlet distributors and street vendors at intersections and traffic lights.

Windscreen washers say they don't understand why they are now all being labeled criminals as they work with police to inform them of criminals hiding at intersections.

"If we see them, we call the cops. After two weeks you see him again.

The focus behind the project is to clean up the streets, with evidence suggesting a threat to motorists who've been hit by smash and grabs in hotspots.

A window washer says life isn't easy as they work hard to support their families and not crime.

A windscreen washer makes on average R100 a day.

"It's just zama zama nje to get some food, I'm not here to commit any crime."

Last week, the department announced that it aims to be more visible at crime hotspot areas, as authorities try to stop smash and grab incidents in the city.

A woman and her friend say they were intimidated by windscreen washers at an intersection in Morningside on Monday.

"They basically put so much foam so that I couldn't see and they hit my car actually on top and started swearing at us."

The City of Johannesburg is in the process of changing bylaws which will make it unlawful to support operators.

Metro Police have arrested more than a 120 people at various intersections and highways since operation "Ke molao" was launched last week.

A blind man and a disabled man are among those detained.