My blog yesterday described an encounter with SAPS plain clothes ‘detectives’ who laboriously, and with manners of the trough, searched my little Nissan Micra on suspicion of it being used to transport a ton of cocaine. While this pointless invasion was bad enough it did not constitute robbery. But the following does.
While passing through town at 7.00am on Wednesday morning, I was served a summons (for which read, a fine of R550) in respect of an alleged traffic offense. This is how events unfolded. I stopped at traffic lights on Main Street (those which intersect with Long Street). An unmarked police vehicle with Cape Town registration plates was in front of me (obviously I didn’t know it to be a Traffic cops vehicle until I was later approached by its occupants). When the lights changed to green the vehicle proceeded along Main Street at a constant speed of 20kph. It appeared to me, even at that early hour, that this was a Capetonian who was unfamiliar with the area and was looking for something on Main Street. It was still dark.
There were no parked cars on either side of the road; there was no oncoming traffic. The section of road (opposite Toyota) allows for overtaking. I pulled out, accelerating to 40kph to overtake the unmarked police car. The driver hadn’t used vehicle indicators to suggest anything other than that he was continuing along Main Street in the left hand lane. However, when I made my maneuver, the driver unaccountably moved sharply across to the right, obliging me to take evasive action, which unfortunately forced me (albeit not by very much) over the solid white line in the middle of the road. Only at that stage did the policeman use his vehicle indicators (right turn). By then my only option was to complete the maneuver. I did so safely, well within the town speed limit, without danger to either the police vehicle, or the occupants of my own vehicle.
When I stopped at the Post Office to allow one of my passengers to post his letter, we were then approached by the occupants of said unmarked vehicle. The officer who got out of his vehicle advised me, vaguely, that I was being issued with a fine for crossing the white line. Both officers were unwilling to listen to my counter claim and the driver was already writing my ticket before I had spoken to him. I doubt that this constitutes correct police protocol.
For my worrying analysis of this incident, see Part II of this blog which follows.