The motorist who was subjected to verbal abuse by traffic officials on the road between Nelspruit and Hoedspruit was delighted on January 24, 2006 when his R200 speeding fine was overturned in the Bushbuckridge Magistrate's Court. The ticket was issued to him last August in the Acornhoek/Casteel area for allegedly doing 74km/hr in a 60 zone. Tilly contested the legality of the ticket from the outset, causing the traffic officers on site to tell Tilly to "**** off " no less than three times.
Nothing has yet come of the investigation that the Limpopo traffic department claimed they were conducting into the officials' behaviour, but the magistrate's court ruled that there was no case against Tilly, as the traffic officials had failed to follow the legal guidelines for speed trapping set out by the National Prosecuting Authority.
Prior to the court case, Tilly tried to get the ticket dismissed through legal channels as it was obvious that the traffic cops had not set up their equipment correctly, but the state decided to continue with the prosecution, only to have the magistrate give a "not guilty" verdict.
Some of the inconsistencies arising with the speed trapping include the fact that the radar machine did not appear to have a calibration certificate, it was not being tested as set out in the speed trapping guidelines and the person operating the radar could not produce a valid operator's certificate for the radar machine, but only had an operator's certificate for a different machine. It is not known how many motorists other than Tilly were trapped by the same officers in the same location on that day.
If stopped at a speed trap, a motorist may ask to see the traffic official's warrant card that authorises him to stop traffic, without which any confrontation is unlawful. The motorist is also allowed to view the speed reading on the radar (in some cases it is accompanied by a photo of the vehicle caught by the trap), may ask to see the operator's certificate to use the machine, and may also check that the machine's SABS calibration certificate is still valid.
Radar speed traps may also not be set up within 300 metres of the start of a new speed limit zone unless specially authorised, and a radar machine is not allowed to lock on to a car that is more than 400 metres away from the radar device. Radar devices also have to be mounted onto a tripod, and may not sit on the roof of a car.
Anyone encountering Limpopo traffic officials behaving in a corrupt manner can call the provincial toll-free hotline number on 0800 006694, or call the anti-fraud line of the office of the premier on 0800 002383.