Cops to catch roadhogs in unmarked vehicles

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Nelspruit - Traffic officers in Mpumalanga are to hide out in high-tech unmarked vehicles this weekend to detect speeding, unlicensed and stolen vehicles and motorists who have not paid fines.

Mpumalanga Roads and Transport MEC Jackson Mthembu warned that the vehicles are equipped with moving violation recorders, a DVD recorder that cannot be wiped clean, a screen that automatically records number plates, a recording camera and a digital microphone.

The MEC, speaking at a ceremony to hand over three of the vehicles to specially trained traffic officers on Tuesday, said road users must not think that they were not monitored when they don't see traffic cars.

"The vehicles are not marked on purpose so that we can apprehend road offenders who only comply with traffic rules when they see marked traffic vehicles. This is indeed an innovation we are proud of. Motorists will be watched and seen," said Mr Mthembu.

The unmarked vehicles have recorded much success with the police able to net a motorist in Emalahleni (formerly Witbank) driving a vehicle belonging to a Gauteng company that owed the Metro police over R1 million in traffic fines.

Mr Mthembu said motorists should pay their fines before travelling to the province because all municipalities were locked in the system.

Jimmy Hadebe, one of the traffic officers trained to operate the vehicle, said the cars were fitted with a black box similar to those found on aeroplanes that record everything in the cockpit.

"Everything that happens in the vehicles is recorded and cannot be deleted by anyone," he said.

The recordings can be used as evidence in court, even in cases where motorists claim traffic cops tried to solicit bribes from them.

"It will be of great assistance to both the corruptor and the corruptee in court cases," said Mr Hadebe.

Meanwhile, traffic police will also be deployed throughout Mpumalanga over the Easter weekend.

The department has put another 93 patrol cars on the road since March and has increased the number of traffic officials by 200 new intakes.

In total, the department now has 308 traffic cars and 3 200 traffic officials.

Over the holidays, there will be roadblocks, spot checks and visible patrolling officers every 30km on all roads, including the N4, N12, R40.

Compulsory rest stops will be provided to ensure motorists rest every 200km or after two hours of driving.

Last Easter, 39 fatalities were recorded in road accidents in the province.