For many far south residents, car guard Alex Iluta is a familiar face.
He has worked in Kalk Bay parking area 7, better known to locals as the parking lot next to Cape to Cuba, since 2001.
But keeping an eye on cars is not what makes him unique.
In the past 17 years, Alex has come up with a unique parking system that ensures visitors get a parking spot almost all the time.
When the parking lot is full, visitors double park their cars and simply hand their keys to Alex who then moves their cars around as parking bays become available or if cars parked in, need to leave.
Alex lives in Fish Hoek with his wife, Nisha and six children. He has a background in security.
He said he came up with the idea after locals who worked in Kalk Bay had trouble finding parking in the mornings.
“They would double park their cars and leave their keys with me. I would move their cars when a parking bay was available and then take their keys to them,” he said.
The idea rubbed off on other residents, resulting in Alex receiving dozens of keys on a daily basis.
He carries the keys with him tied in a big bunch and knows exactly which key is for which car and whom it belongs to.
And when visitors are ready to go home, he points out where their cars are parked or fetches the car for them, if it is parked far away.
But this is not all that makes him unique.
Alex said he also drives residents home after a night out.
After dropping them at home, he takes the car back to the parking area. He fetches it in the morning and takes it to the resident’s house and asks them to drop him off at the parking lot.
He said he loves his job as he meets new people every day and gets to support his family.
“I love talking to people and making jokes with them,” he said.
He said in the past 17 years, not a single car has been stolen from the parking lot.
But his job does not come without sacrifices.
He has been stabbed on four separate occasions when confronting would-be car thieves but managed to prevent cars from being damaged or stolen.
Plumstead resident Linda Nebb said she visits Kalk Bay often and Alex always helps her find parking. She has used his services for the past two years after a Fish Hoek friend told her about him.
“I never worry about my car or where it is parked. When I’m ready to leave he points out where my car is and hands me my keys,” she said.