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Motorists claim all is not fine at roadblocks

MALALANE – Provincial traffic police have on numerous occasions recently held roadblocks on the N4 at the eastern entrance to town. A camera with a number-plate recognition system was used to scan vehicles as they approached. Drivers with long-outstanding fines were pulled over by traffic officials.

Westbound traffic has on occasion backed up to the Jeppes Reef road (almost four kilometres), causing traffic delays in excess of 45 minutes during lunchtime. People have reported being late for collecting children from school. Motorists coming over the rise at the allowed speed suddenly found a row of stationary vehicles ahead of them, on a downhill.

“Some are then allegedly made to believe that this is a legal procedure, and end up signing forms simply to be allowed to leave the roadblock,” says Mr Mel Preddy, of the Community Policing Forum, which is in possession of emails from motorists who have experienced this.

The only conditions under which any motorist can be held against his or her will, is in terms of a valid arrest warrant. Any attempt at limiting freedom of movement, refusing to return a valid driver’s license or holding the keys of a vehicle, are illegal.

According to Preddy, who has supplied Corridor Gazette with legal documents affirming this, these are schedule one charges and require immediate action by the SAPS. He said that should this happen, any motorist so affected should lay charges at the first possible opportunity, despite having signed documents or being detained.

If the SAPS encounter difficulty with accommodating such a charge, this should be reported to the local community policing forum. It is crucially important to take note of names and identities of all uniformed personnel dealt with, at all times. Preddy said that all acknowledgements of guilt for traffic offences signed at a roadblock can be regarded as having been signed under duress. As such they could probably legally worthless.

He stressed that that a roadblock is not a court of law. Detention for outstanding traffic fines is not allowed under the South African Constitution. Preddy however stressed that despite the abovementioned, traffic officials have powers of arrest and advised motorists who may encouter this, to always remain polite, insist on your rights and refrain from being abusive or using violence.

You may be stopped and informed of the infringement. That is where the legal process ends.

If you have a complaint about having been so treated at a roadblock, please email Corridor Gazette at [email protected] In emergencies, Malalane SAPS can be reached at 013-790-2721/0, or the MAC on 084-666-2468.

Email reports can be sent to [email protected] Corridor Gazette emailed questions to the provincial traffic authorites on Tuesday, April 21. At the time of going to press no answers or comment had been received.

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