Rolling with Cape town’s Ghost Squad

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By Natasha Prince

The simple act of crossing a solid white line on Cape Town’s Hospital Bend soon had the driver of white Isuzu bakkie looking frazzled when he was pursued by a convoy of Ghost Squad traffic officers.

On Wednesday, as the team of Highway Ghost Squad members - one of four components of the Ghost Squad Unit - set out for their daily patrols, the Isuzu driver’s transgression was the first they spotted.

In the high-performance Ghost Squad car, officer John Bezuidenhout used his loudhailer to tell the driver to pull over on the yellow demarcated area. The confused driver, who had two passengers in the vehicle, used his left-turn indicator despite being told to pull off to the right.

“He’s clearly nervous,” quipped mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith, who was accompanying the officers.

The driver pulled up on the painted island where Bezuidenhout noticed that he was also not wearing a seatbelt.

Bezuidenhout then issued a summons to the driver for disobeying and crossing a “channelising” or solid white line, for not wearing a seat belt and for driving with only a learner’s licence without having a qualified driver in the vehicle.

The Highway Ghost Squad team concentrates particularly on moving violations, keeping a lookout for offenders in traffic and focusing on aggressive driver behaviour and driving that puts others at risk.

Smith said the N2 and the R300 in particular were notorious for driving offences in the past, and he emphasised concerns about speeding.

According to figures provided by the mortuary, there have been 33 fatalities on roads in the city since the start of the holiday season, Smith said.

Back on the road with the squad, the radio crackled an alert to the officers, calling them to an accident scene on the M5.

Squad members raced through the traffic with sirens blaring. Some drivers heeded the sirens and pulled over while other drivers appeared dazed and confused about the direction of the sirens and remained stationary.

When the officers arrived at the accident scene, they were given a thumbs-up by unit head Maxine Jordaan. Officers helped to keep traffic in check at the accident scene where a motorcyclist was lying on the ground.

Smith called on motorists to “help keep the stats down”, saying “wear a safety belt, don’t speed, don’t drink and drive” was a simple mantra that could save lives. Many road blocks were planned for this season, he added.

“We really want people to be scared. They must be generally panicked about drinking and driving,” he said. - Cape Argus

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