What can motorists do when they are pulled over? Do they have any rights? The short answer is NO. You are at the mercy of the metro cops. Now that's a pleasant thought huh? They can detain you and do with you whatever they want, even arrest you for no reason other than a suspicion of guilt for..um..anything. Wonderful.
Read one of the 'tips' below. Phone 10111 and speak to the operator while the cops are with you. Yeah right, as if. When last did any 10111 phone call ever get answered? What a load of bull!
Early on July 27, a 21-year-old woman travelling alone in her car was stopped and pulled over by two uniformed Metro Police officers.
They approached her from a marked Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) bakkie. One officer asked to see her driving licence and if she had been drinking. She replied that she had drunk one glass of wine.
"He said I may be over the limit. He asked me to do a breathalyser (test) and (then) changed his mind, saying: 'I don't think a girl like you wants to go to jail.'
"I asked him to do the breathalyser (test) because he wanted to take me to jail, but he refused and he said if he did the breathalyser (test), I would probably be over the limit," she said.
In the meantime, the second officer was apparently pacing between the two cars.
The first officer informed her they were going to take her to Linden police station, where she could apply for bail of R1 500.
"I never did a breathalyser (test), so I wasn't sure why I had to go to jail. He asked me what we could do about this."
She said the officer then got into her car with her, and the other officer followed them in the bakkie.
On the way to the police station, the officer allegedly repeatedly tried to solicit a bribe, asking: "What can we do about this?"
"He didn't mention money specifically, but said he wanted something. He told me to stop and park on Frederick Drive, Northcliff, and went out to his friend. He came back and told me his friend needed something."
The officer finally returned her licence and she drove off.
Her experience prompted The Star to look at motorists' rights in such a situation. Alarmingly, they don't have any.
According to JMPD spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar, motorists have to obey any orders or instructions from a uniformed officer.
"A motorist is required to comply with the officer until the officer has completed his or her inspection, issued the motorist a ticket or executed an arrest," he said.
It is only once a motorist has been arrested and booked at a police station that they may exercise their right to pay bail, be released from custody and appear in court.
Until then, Minnaar said, a motorist had no choice but to do what they're told.
Commenting on the woman's experience, Minnaar said the officer was within his rights to arrest the woman on suspicion of drunken driving, even though he allegedly refused to do the breathalyser test.
He admitted that it was bizarre that the officer refused to do the test, because it could have been used as evidence to support his suspicion.
"It's odd, but he has the authority to arrest her on suspicion alone," he said.
He advised motorists who suspected an officer of trying to solicit a bribe to make a note of the person's identity and report the officer to the JMPD's Internal Affairs Investigation Unit.
"If an officer is talking in the way of soliciting a bribe, take down some form of identity so that there can be an investigation into the matter.
"Try to take down the officer's number plate, the vehicle number, precinct and name," he said.
Uniformed JMPD officers have the authority to stop any motorist:
- For a routine check;
- For a traffic offence; and
- To check for suspected stolen vehicles or suspicious drivers.
- Thoroughly check the inside and outside of the car;
- Request personal information such as names and addresses from any person in the car, including driver and passengers; and
- Inspect the car and driving licence.
- Pay bail;
- Be released; and
- Appear in court.
- Stop if you are ordered to do so. Remain calm and be co-operative.
- Take down the police officer's registration number and vehicle number written on the side of the car.
- Call 10111, tell the operator that you have been stopped by the police and you would like them to keep talking to you until you have identified the officers.
- Give the operator the officer's name, rank and force number, but make sure the police can hear you as that will reduce the chances of them trying to bribe or harass you.