Man who fed homeless speaks out as cops hunt pair who torched his car

All that's left of Good Samaritan Peter Wagenaar's Mini Cooper after it was petrol-bombed in Mouille Point, Cape Town, 6 May 2020. Picture: Twitter / @kgaugelo_SM

This after a heated public back-and-forth spat on social media over residents helping to feed the homeless, which resulted in his address being published online.

Two people on a motorbike are alleged to be behind the petrol-bombing of a Cape Town man’s car in a pre-dawn attack in Mouille Point, Cape Town.

Property and branding business owner Peter Wagenaar and a team of Mouille Point residents have been feeding homeless people on the upmarket “Platinum Strip” for weeks now, raising the ire of some residents.

On Wednesday morning, he woke to the sight of his vehicle ablaze.

This after a heated public back-and-forth spat on social media over residents helping to feed the homeless during the lockdown, which resulted in his address being published online.

Wagenaar said on Thursday: “I woke up at 03:40 yesterday morning – my wife’s car alarm was going off, the Mini. I looked out the window and saw that the car was on fire.”

The Mini Cooper had been parked in a public bay alongside the coastal promenade that leads to the suburb’s lighthouse – not far from tourist hub the V&A Waterfront.

“I woke my wife up, said, ‘Don’t get a fright, our car’s on fire – somebody’s just gone and set it alight. Remain calm, call the fire department and I’ll go downstairs and make sure there are no other cars in danger’. I went down – the SAPS were out there, some of the security guys were out there, a couple of the neighbours, and the fire department arrived and they extinguished the fire.”

Residents took to social media over the incident, condemning the fact that Wagenaar’s address was shared in public.

Wagenaar said one of the neighbours mentioned another neighbour across the road had heard a motorbike at the time the car was petrol-bombed.

“She stuck her head out the window, and saw a motorbike making a U-turn, just by our vehicle and sped up Fritz Sonnenberg Road into the distance.

“That’s now been confirmed to be the fact. We’ve got various sequences of camera footage showing two gentlemen arriving on a motorbike.

“One jumped off the bike, dropped a petrol-bomb under the car, jumped back on the bike and left into the still of the night,” Wagenaar added.

Asked how he felt about the attack, he said: “I’ve got sadness for whoever stoops to this level of taking things this far.

Vocal

“There have been some folk – I’d say a handful or two – who’ve been vocal about feeding the homeless people, and they’re entitled to their opinion.

“We’re looking after the homeless folk during this ‘lockdown’ period – giving them two home-cooked meals a day. I have no problem with indifference – we all wish we could wave that magic wand and hope that everyone [the homeless] appeared in a shelter, and everybody was very happy. But we know that’s not a fact of life.

“The folk are literally out on the streets. They have no sustenance; there is no food in the bins for them they would normally scrape out.

“There are no pedestrians walking around able to give them the ‘fiver’ they would normally bum off. So where are they meant to get their sustenance? Do we want them to turn to crime?” Wagenaar asked.

Praise

He had nothing but praise for the commander at Sea Point police station.

“They have taken this matter very seriously.

“It’s certainly lit the community. I’m just hoping that we can finally start making people come to their senses, and realise that we don’t need to spew out hate and vitriol – we can agree to disagree.”

Wagenaar said much of the hate had been on social media – but he had paid “very little attention” to it.

“The task at hand for us is serving 80 to 100 homeless people breakfast in the morning, a home-cooked dinner in the evening and we continue on regardless.”

Asked how he and his wife were coping emotionally, he added: “If you had to look at the ECG monitor, this wouldn’t even put a blip on my heart rate. In fact, I’d say the heart rate has gone into the negative territory, from the fact that people can stoop so low.”

At the time of publication, the police had not announced any arrests.

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