Do-gooder’s car torched

Residents and the homeless have shown their support for Peter Wagenaar whose car was torched last week.

Atlantic Seaboard residents have shown their support for a man whose car was torched last week.

Peter Wagenaar woke up to find his car in flames in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The incident is believed to be an escalation of the backlash he had received from some residents for the work that he does for the homeless.

Mr Wagenaar has been helping the homeless and vulnerable people in the area by giving them food parcels and handouts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said there were a handful of people who were not happy with his actions and claimed they had rallied others to their cause.

He added that a few weeks before lockdown, he and his wife had seen someone scratching in the bin and decided to get a permit to help the homeless.

“I realised that there would be tremendous hunger and they would eventually turn to crime just to put food in their stomachs.

“I thought if they had meals every morning and afternoon, they wouldn’t harass others for food,” he said.

Recalling the day his car went up in flames, Mr Wagenaar said he had heard his car alarm at 3.40am.

“That’s when I realised that someone was being malicious. I looked out of the window at 3.40am and saw the car was on
fire.

I calmed my wife down and asked her to call the fire department while I went downstairs and made sure the other cars were not in danger,” he said.

But he would not let the incident stop him from continuing to do good.

“After everything was done, I took a bath and prepared breakfast for the homeless.”When he started the initiative, he said, he hadn’t expected the backlash until he received multiple emails from other residents warning him about his work. “We’re facing a crisis that the country has never dealt with before and the homeless people don’t have any homes that they can go to, they don’t have any food and I don’t know what they expect them to do,” he said.

Mr Wagenaar added that Law Enforcement officers and police tried to stop him from feeding the homeless in the area but he showed them his permit. Mprofeti Xolani Fulathela, who is homeless, said he didn’t understand why anyone would do something like this to Mr Wagenaar.

“I live here and I come to this side every day to pray by the beach. He called me and told me he’d be here every day with something for me, and since then, I’ve been getting decent meals from him,” he said.

Mr Fulathela said he was shocked when he saw the car on Wednesday. “It was painful to see it like that because this is one person who has treated us with kindness here. I thought he would stop helping us but he continued,” he said.

The torched car has attracted a lot of attention from residents who have pictures of it and stuck heart-shaped pieces of cardboard and messages to the car.

Mr Wagenaar said he was grateful for the support from residents and he hoped that this would help them to start having a healthy conversation about how to deal with matters as a community.

Sea Point police have confirmed that a case of malicious damage to property was opened and is under investigation.

A Backabuddy campaign has been started to help Mr Wagenaar buy new car and any excess money will be used to help fund his efforts to help the homeless in the Sea Point area. For more information, go to https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/peter-wagenaar