Motorbiker kills cop

2011-11-07 00:00

KZN Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) officers wept openly as they bid farewell to one of their own yesterday.

Talented 33-year-old principal provincial inspector Ashrina Ramklown of Pietermaritzburg was killed while trying to stop a speeding motorcyclist on the southbound carriageway of the N3 at Midmar Dam on Saturday afternoon.

The motorcyclist, who died at the scene and who is understood to be a former Durban Metropolitan Police officer, had earlier been clocked doing 159 km/h at Mooi River.

Ramklown was killed when she responded to her Mooi River colleagues’ appeal for assistance in apprehending the man, who had failed to stop when ordered to do so.

While the RTI is still investigating how fast the motorcyclist was travelling at the time of the accident, The Witness has learned that the speedometer on the wrecked motorcycle was locked at 180 km/h.

Transport Department spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said: “We are saddened that our traffic officer had to lose her life in the line of duty. If the motorcyclist had been travelling within the speed limit this tragedy could have been avoided.”

Ncalane dismissed allegations that the motorcyclist had been shot by the RTI officer, saying that a post mortem showed this was not the case. “The post mortem showed that a sharp object created a hole in his chest. It was not a gunshot wound,” he said.

Ncalane said confusion could have arisen because the holster Ramklown wore was torn off by the force of the impact and her handgun and magazine fell to the ground. He added that the weapon has been sent for ballistic testing.

Ramklown’s funeral, held at the Arya Samaj Hall in Raisethorpe, was attended by hundreds of mourners, including her RTI colleagues, many of whom formed a guard of honour down the aisle and stood rigidly to attention as the coffin made its way down to the altar.

During the service Ramklown, a married mother of two, was described by those closest to her as a “wonderful and beautiful human being” and the “coolest of aunts”. Riaan du Plessis, acting manager of the RTI, said she was a dedicated and passionate officer.

Ramklown joined the traffic department in September 2001 as a trainee provincial inspector. After completing a diploma course she became a provincial inspector in 2002 and her dedication saw her rapid promotion to senior provincial inspector in 2005 and to principal provincial inspector in 2009. At the time of her death she was lecturing at the KZN Traffic Training College.

Du Plessis said: “Ashrina was an extremely well-loved member of the RTI and highly respected by her colleagues and students. She had dignity, passion, commitment and a high level of integrity.

“She always had a smile on her face and there was a long line of people who wanted to be her friend. She was a very loving person and colleague … she will be truly and sadly missed.”

Advocate Simo Chamane, the general manager for transport and freight in the Department of Transport, and who was representing Transport MEC Willies Mchunu at the funeral, expressed his personal sadness at Ramklown’s death. He said the fact that the culprit was a former officer of the law made her death even more poignant.

Ramklown’s death came just a day after Mchunu had launched an aggressive new campaign to combat fatalities on the province’s roads. Operation Valingozi, a partnership between his department and Popcru KZN, also aims to root out crime.

In his message to the family, Mchunu said: “Ashrina was a dedicated law enforcement officer who passed away on duty, doing what she did best, combating lawlessness … we will continue to champion the cause of road safety in her name and in the name of all other officers who have died in the line of duty.”

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said a case of culpable homicide has been opened. The name of the motorcyclist has not been released as his next of kin have not yet been informed.

===

Road Safety: We must act now, says Ndebele

AS part of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele, road safety experts and other stakeholders will launch the Imperial Holdings I-Pledge road safety campaign tomorrow in Johannesburg.

“Motor vehicles have become the deadliest weapons of mass destruction in recent history!” the minister said. “We must act and we must act now! In South Africa, road crashes result in at least 40 deaths every day.” — Sapa.

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