Beware the R40 Speed Traps and Rude Cops

A motorist travelling on the R40 between Nelspruit and Phalaborwa was shocked and disgusted when a traffic officer repeatedly swore at him, rudely telling him to 'go away' using strong profanities. Racist remarks were also made, including, "you're an old man from the old government, this is a new government...leave."

Johnny Tilly had been stopped and ticketed for allegedly speeding in a 60km/hr zone in the Casteel region near Acornhoek. As he regularly travels the route and is aware of the ever-present speedtraps, he believes he was adhering to the speed limit at the time. While discussing the event with the officers on duty and afternbattempting to learn their identities, Tilly noted that a bakkie went through the speed trap travelling at over 110km/hr in the 60 zone.

According to Tilly's sworn affidavit, the officer in charge of the radar, whose badge identified him as MW Maake, waved at the driver of the vehicle and made no attempt to stop him. The other traffic officials also made no attempt to stop the car. When Tilly questioned the officers about this, Tilly says that Maake told him to get in his car and go, using four-letter words.

When Tilly begged his pardon, Maake repeated the foul language. Tilly then spoke to the other officers, and Maake repeated the offensive instruction for the third time. This is not the first time that allegations of various sorts of misconduct, including bribery, corruption and racism, have been made against the traffic officers manning speed traps on the same stretch of road. The road is regulated between 60 and 80km/hr and regularly has more than one speed trap in less than 100km.

Limpopo traffic department spokesperson Puti Mabelebele says that it is unusual for more than one speed trap to be placed in that distance, but suggests that Mpumalanga may also be placing speed traps on the road. However, Mpumalanga's jurisdiction ends at Hazyview, and the traps are often beyond this point. Mabelebele says that the department "Can't condone that [behaviour]" and that it is against the officials' code of conduct. She says, "The department stands for professionalism and customer care."

The case has been presented to the department, who will conduct an internal investigation. Mabelebele says labour relations procedures will be followed. If guilty, the office may get an official warning placed on his record. Another official in the department has said several allegations have been made that the traffic police on that particular stretch of road only stop white people.

Apparently some legal action has been taken against traffic officers for various offences but the cases have been delayed in clogged-up magistrates' courts. Officials at a speed trap or road block should be able to produce an appointment certificate, which looks like an ID document, to prove that they are legally appointed officials.

When Tilly tried to obtain the identity of the officials in the Acornhoek area, they were obstructive and rude. Mabelebele says that anyone encountering Limpopo traffic officials behaving in a corrupt manner can call the toll-free hotline number of 0800 006694, or call the anti-fraud line of the office of the premier on 0800 002383.

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