Student’s drive to campus turns into a nightmare trip to prison

2008-03-18 00:00

What started out as a routine morning drive to work yesterday quickly turned into a nightmare for 23-year-old civil engineering honours student Shanley Hay, of Northdale.

Hay was driving down New Greytown Road at around 8 am, with his mother Vasi and a friend in the car, when a traffic officer leapt into the road and signalled him to stop.

He told Hay that he had been filmed overtaking in oncoming traffic in Plymouth Road and that he was being arrested for negligent and reckless driving.

Despite Hay’s astonished protestations that he never uses Plymouth Road, the officer pushed him into the back of his police car and handcuffed him to another accused sitting in the back.

Hay’s mother, Vasi, then came over and demanded to know what her son had been charged with. At this point, more traffic officers arrived. One of them said to Hay through the window: "Tell your mother to shut her big mouth".

Vasi then phoned her husband Frank, who rushed to the scene and told the officers that Hay was writing examinations later (yesterday afternoon, for his civil engineering honours exam at Durban University of Technology), and demanded to know what his son was being charged with.

The police told Frank Hay that his son was being arrested for reckless driving and that he should remove his son’s car from the scene.

They told him that they were taking Shanley to the Mountain Rise Police Station and Frank followed in his son’s car. There they locked him in a cell and Frank tried to get reassurances out of a senior officer. He was told to wait until papers were returned from the crime prevention centre.

Later, Hay was taken for fingerprinting and then served papers ordering him to appear in court today.

"They treated him like a common criminal and they weren’t interested in anything we had to say. Instead, they just warned me that they’d lock me up if I caused a disturbance. They wouldn’t let him go to the toilet and they wouldn’t let me speak to him in his cell," said Frank Hay.

Shanley said after his release that he found the attitude of the traffic police "hostile and frightening. Especially the way they spoke to my mother and father."

The inspector in charge of the shift working the New Greytown Road, an Inspector Pennels, said he was not aware of details of the incident.

He could not comment until the accused appeared in court, which is set for today.

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