For residents and shoppers in Gatesville, Farouk Benjamin, 72, is a familiar face. He can be found on the corner of Hazel and Klipfontein roads almost every day during peak hours, directing traffic – even though the traffic lights are in working order.
The Athlone News witnessed him in action on a few occasions, and decided to find out a bit more about him. Mr Benjamin said he is retired traffic officer, who just simply cannot sit at home the whole day.
He lives in Sherwood Park and travels to Gatesville every day by taxi.
“I miss being a traffic officer. I wanted to work for them longer, but because of my age, I am not allowed. Now I do this to keep myself busy. I don’t want to sit at home. I still have a lot of energy and I am very fit. I am here every morning and afternoon peak hours,” Mr Benjamin said.
While Mr Benjamin was chatting to the Athlone News, a driver called out to him, and threw a R50 note out of his window as he was making the turn at the corner. An overjoyed Mr Benjamin quickly ran to get it, and joking that he hoped nobody would report that to his “boss”, as it would be considered taking a bribe.
Mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, JP Smith, said he was not aware of the pensioner’s presence on that corner, but that he would investigate, because what Mr Benjamin does, borders on impersonating a traffic officer. “If what he does causes serious injury, he can get into trouble,” Mr Smith said. He added: “We do have a traffic wardens, either as volunteers, or as part of our Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP), and even a pensioner can be part of the volunteers. I will see if we could possibly incorporate him onto our programme, but whoever is part of this programme, needs to be fit, capable and compos mentis (mentally competent),” Mr Smith said.