The window washers – there’s not much difference between them and highway robbery

"Yes, I'll have your money - but you'll have a clean windscreen."

“Yes, I’ll have your money – but you’ll have a clean windscreen.”

It’s a problem – Alf is pleased to say – that does not trouble the good citizens of Eketahuna.

He is referring to the pests and misfits who plague motorists at intersections with their unsolicited window-cleaning antics.

The Waikato Times described it like this:

You slow down at an intersection only to see a man with cleaning equipment running across the road towards you. Your heart sinks, you hurriedly flip through your wallet or purse for change but find nothing. It’s all eftpos these days. Too late, you look up and see the guy has already tossed some water and soap on your windscreen and started wiping.

The practice is regulated by a city bylaw which bans people from washing the windows of vehicles stopped on the road within 50m of an intersection.

The Hamilton City Council is about to launch a public review of the bylaw.

But no matter what the review does to the bylaw, it looks likely to be as effective as pissing into a Wellington gale.

Alf makes that judgement on the strength of the antics of one Alvin Wainohu, 33, who persistently ignores the bylaw because – violins, please – he’s got 10 kids to feed and and the Government doesn’t give him enough money to feed them.

So this prolific breeder is inflicting himself on hapless motorists as the modern-day equivalent of a Dick Turpin.

The small difference is that the motorists he plunders do get a clean windscreen for the money they cough up.

Curiously – and outrageously – the courts are unable or unwilling to discourage Wainohu’s from reoffending.

Wainohu, 33, got a dressing down from Community Magistrate Susan Hovell when he appeared in the Hamilton District Court last week after appearing on yet another charge after being busted at the intersection of Kahikatea Dr and Ohaupo Rd intersection in August and then at Ulster St and Mill St intersection a month later.

When arrested, he told police he was trying to get money to feed his 10 children.

After questioning Wainohu in court, Hovell learned that he already owed $3500 in fines and suggested it would soon be time to get collections involved to convert the fines into community work to get him off the street.

So why hasn’t this tosser already had his fines converted into community work and why has he not been got off the streets?

Good questions.

“All I can do is fine him again, it’s just ridiculous,” Hovell told his lawyer Mike Curran. “Sooner or later someone is going to get killed or seriously hurt,” she then told Wainohu.

“I understand that,” he replied.

“There’s over 30 convictions for doing the same thing,” Hovell said.

“You’re not the only person trying to feed a family, not everybody stands at windows putting people’s lives at risk.”

Alas, the charge can only be dealt with by way of a fine.

And so on all charges Hovell convicted and fined Wainohu $450 and ordered he pay court costs of $130.

The Waikato Times refers to another prolific window washer, Tasman Hadfield, 39, who’s notched up about 50 convictions.

Piri Hapeta-Taniwha, who’s become a pseudo-father figure to Hadfield over the years, said he was regarded as the ‘captain’ of all the window washers in the city.

Hadfield, who is currently in prison, moved to Hamilton from Auckland about four years ago and lived with him since, and said he’d told him that he washed windows because he didn’t get enough money on the dole and washing windows was better than committing burglaries or stealing.

“He’d tell me that ‘at least I’m doing something where I’m not harming anybody, I’m not stealing from anybody, I don’t do burglaries and don’t do any bashings’ [of women], and that’s the number one thing that he adheres to.”

Hapeta-Taniwha said Hadfield was not pushy or demanding of people and it was simply a yes or no game.

As for those who were aggressive, they were likely not “trained properly”.

“They’ve become ignorant and haven’t got the gumption to use the Tasman effect which is to please people.

“All they’re doing is pleasing themselves,” Hapeta-Taniwha said.

But the prospect of encountering these window-washers obviously is distasteful to Hamilton citizens.

Waikato University tutor Keiko Umeda told the newspaper she takes the long way home rather than go through intersections where window washers hang out.

“I feel really frightened because usually I’m by myself and then I don’t know what to do, if I have to pay or not and they’ve usually started before they even ask me.”

She said if she has coins she will give it to the washers “because I feel scared”.

Hamilton police city acting area commander Inspector Chris Bensemann has described window washers as a “contemporary social problem” in most city centres.

Nah. If they break the law they are law-breakers and if they persistently break the law there’s a cell for them in one of our prisons.

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