Tshepo Molaoele, a car guard at The Company’s Garden in Cape Town, recently helped foil a car theft attempt by refusing to take a bribe offered by the thieves, and then tipping the police off, which led to the arrest of the criminals. For his honesty and indefatigable sense of right and wrong, we make Molaoele our hero for this week.
Ashraf Hendricks of GroundUp, an organisation based in that city, reported that Molaoele noticed suspicious activity on his beat – a car was slowly cruising the area, then it stopped and four men got out. One of them was holding a screwdriver and the astute Molaoele realised that he was about to witness a crime. They were going to steal a car, one that turned out later to be Hendricks’.
He approached the men and asked what they were doing. Immediately they offered him a bribe of R1 000 to look the other way. We must understand, wrote Hendricks, that Molaoele lives on a salary of between R30 and R300 a day, and his rent alone is R850 a month. That money would have made his life easier, at least for a time.
But Molaoele’s principles would not allow him to give in to temptation. He declined to take the money, then thinking quickly, asked the four to come back later, because there were currently still many police officers around. Later, when the cops were gone, they could steal to their hearts’ content.
The men agreed. No sooner were they gone, than Molaoele reported the incident at a nearby shop. The police were called, arrived speedily, and set up a sting operation. Dressed as car guards, they waited for the men to come back and then arrested them.
The four men are currently awaiting trial prisoners.
Meanwhile, Molaoele, who was born in Rustenburg, North West, and has a matric but moved to Cape Town because he thought it would offer more opportunity, continues to work as a car guard.
• Photo by Ashraf Hendricks