You had better pray to the car gods and find the car guards if you want to find a parking spot on the roads outside Wits.
“Welcome to Godfrey’s garage,” says Godfrey Nkosi as he directs you onto the pavement, where Jorissen Street runs from west to east campus.
Nkosi says he has been working as an informal car guard outside Wits for 19 years.
Godfrey’s “garage” lies outside Senate House, in front of a gate with a sign which states: “Emergency entrance and exit. No parking in front of this gate at all times.”
There are four cars parked in front of the gate.
Two car guards operate along Jorissen Street, from Enoch Santonga Avenue to Bertha Street. From about 8am on weekday mornings, the street is full of cars parked next to the pavement and motorists struggle to find a space.
Last year some of Nkosi’s counterparts stopped working in Braamfontein as a system of official parking bays controlled by marshals moved in.
Ace Parking Services began operating a pay-before-you-park system, with official marshals charging customers for parking roadside in Braamfontein and in the CBD.
On the same road, just past one set of robots, official marshals monitor the length of time that cars park in the designated bays and fine motorists who exceed their allocated time.
“I own this street,” says Patrick Gemu, another informal car guard outside Wits. Nkosi and Gemu are not worried about Ace Parking taking over their territory.
“Students have no money; they can’t afford to pay R8 an hour to park,” says Gemu, referring to the rate
Ace Parking charges customers for an hour of roadside parking. Gemu’s area includes Jorissen Street between Station and Bertha Streets.
“We are more than willing to [provide] a service there [outside of Wits], unfortunately it is not in our control,” says Juliet Paulsen, managing director of Ace Parking Services.
Paulsen says her company cannot operate on this section of Jorissen Street as the Johannesburg Metro Police (JMPD) has said it lacks allocated parking bays and parking notice boards.