City clamps down on car washes

Materials used at car washes, such as containers and hose pipes were confiscated.

With Cape Town’s escalating drought, the City of Cape Town is taking a tough stance against water wasters, particularly car wash owners.

On Friday February 2, the City’s agencies joined forces to catch reckless water users in Mfuleni and other areas, including Delft.

Traffic officers and law enforcement went all out to force car washes to comply with the current restrictions and issue fines. They also confiscated some materials used by the car wash owners.

Level 6B water restrictions kicked in at the beginning of February. This means each resident must not use more than 50 litres of water a day. However, the townships remain a challenge for the municipality.

Mfuleni Law Enforcement Inspector, Valentia Davidson, who led the operation, said under the current restriction, nobody was allowed to use municipal water to run a car wash. While it was a painful experience for some, others welcomed the decision to close down car washes that used municipal water.

Owner of Batlokwa Car Wash, Mothusi Mpitse, said he was also concerned that the City is not monitoring the communal taps in informal settlements. “I personally think this is long overdue. I am an owner but I can attest that we are wasting water. Mind you, this water is ours.

‘The drought affects us all so we should be mindful. We need to be smart and fetch water from the rivers and dams. There is a spring fountain in Newlands, people should go there to fetch water,” he said. He said to keep his car wash going he fetches water at a river in the city. Mr Mpitse has some advice for the City. “Minimise the communal taps in the informal settlements. Those people waste water like nothing. Close a lot of them and leave one or two so that they can queue for water. They will know what the government means when it says there are water restrictions. If the City does not do that, we are doomed to fail,” he said.The law enforcement officers did not have it easy in some places. At Mdala’s Car Wash, the owners were just not happy. They refused to give their details and accused law enforcement of having a vendetta against the car wash. Buckets and other containers were confiscated. At another car wash, hose pipes were confiscated. The owners claimed that they were doing what the government encouraged them to do. But Law Enforcement stuck to their guns and did their job.

Law enforcement spokesperson, Wayne Dyason, said the enforcement agencies would continue the clampdown. However, he said while law enforcement is making progress, there is still too much abuse of the water supply.

He encouraged residents to work with them by reporting water wastage. He said fines to the value of R33 100 were issued, including five for operating an illegal car wash, two for unlicensed drivers, one for mixing building material on a public road and two for consuming drugs in a public place.Residents can contact the City via email at to report contraventions of the water restrictions (evidence should be provided to assist the City’s enforcement efforts), or they can send an SMS to 31373 or call law enforcement on 021 596 1999.