The census for 2011 has started and already there has been an unsavoury incident. On the very first day two men posing as census collectors conned their way into a property in Kensington, Johannesburg, and robbed the owners at gunpoint.
It was bound to happen, and it surely won’t be the last incident of this type before the end of the census.
The residents of the Cape Point Peninsula are even more vulnerable as we have a high number of elderly residents- who are recognised as easy targets for this kind of crime, often times not involving violence, but these scum bags are not above beating elderly people for no reason what-so-ever.
A census is very necessary for the well running of the country and most citizens are keen to cooperate with the process. In fact we are conditioned to do as we are told, and the more authoritative the individual looks the more we will bow down. The criminals know this.
If someone comes to your door dressed in scruffy clothes talking like a tsotsi you are going to set the dog on them. That same person dressed in a believable uniform saying they are from the census will have you opening the door and putting the kettle on.
So what do you do?
It is a legal requirement to partake in the census, as far as I am aware you can’t refuse to be counted. However, there are steps that you can take to make sure that you are safe, and as always, if you are unsure don’t let them in.
First, the uniforms. The robbers in Kensington were wearing green jackets. Census collectors are wearing special yellow jackets. They should also have identification and a serial number that you can check on. You can phone 0800 110248 to confirm that the id is genuine. Keep them waiting at the gate with the dog snarling at them until you have confirmed they are who they say they are- then you can put the kettle on and let them in.
If you have elderly relatives or friends who are easily confused it may be a good idea to tell them not to let anyone in and maybe try to arrange to be there (not sure how you would do this, but it must be possible) because census collectors have supposedly been vetted but people are people and you don’t know who might take advantage of the situation.
Also, I keep hearing the word ‘volunteer’ used to describe the census collectors. This is not the case, they are getting paid. It isn’t much for what they are doing, but still. It is also a full time post (albeit for a short period of time) and they got paid for an extensive training programme (longer than the actual census). In my eyes this makes them public servents. We are the public, they are serving us. So they should understand if they encounter someone who is careful about letting them in. If they are not, then I suggest that they are reported to the same number as used to verify id’s (0800 110248).