'Roadblock warnings must be stopped'

2010-09-16 16:22

Johannesburg - Anyone who tips off motorists about formal traffic roadblocks is contributing to criminality and must be stopped, Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) said on Thursday.

"JPSA strongly condemns this behaviour and will not support anyone who engages in these activities," it said in a statement.

JPSA was responding to PigSpotter, a member of the social networking site Twitter, who until Wednesday, was informing motorists about roadblocks in and around Johannesburg.

PigSpotter has since stopped roadblock alerts, over concerns about tipping off drunk drivers and criminals, but was still alerting motorists about speed traps on Thursday.

"This activity, which has reportedly now been voluntarily stopped is morally, legally and socially reprehensible, not to mention being highly irresponsible," the JPSA said.

JPSA national chair Howard Dembovsky described PigSpotter as "misguided" and said he had a big axe to grind.

"He seems like someone who has ended up with a huge amount of speeding tickets... if this person([PigSpotter) were to contact us, we will put him right on his skewed view of things," Dembovsky said.

Childish

The public should also understand that metro police - and not only motorists - were victimised on the roads.

The use of derogatory terms such as "pigs, bacon, Kermit’s girlfriend", used by PigSpotter on Twitter in reference to metro police was also "unnecessary and childish".

"Do you know that they (police) have had live snakes thrown at them?" asked Dembovsky.

"Many of these officers despise what they have to do, but they have no choice in the matter and it is unreasonable in the extreme for anyone to want to exact revenge on them personally," he said.

The JPSA acknowledged, however, that authorities such as the Johannesburg metro police department and its contractors had "brought the PigSpotter's actions on themselves" by chasing revenue instead of enforcing speed limits.

"There's wrong doings on both sides," Dembovsky said.

JPSA said PigSpotter and his followers had been misinformed that some metro police operations were illegal.

Hiding

"The fact is that there is no legislation which prohibits hiding, but there are operational guidelines that stipulate how and where such equipment may be used..."

Metro police said on Thursday that they were following up on information which could lead to PigSpotter's prosecution.

"We have information that we are following up," said Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar. "He will face the consequences of his actions."

However, JPSA said threats of arrest and prosecution by police may create a "Robin Hood" scenario and would add massive media exposure, resulting in "exactly the opposite effect to what the authorities should have tried to achieve".

PigSpotter, also known as Cliff, had 10 771 followers on his page by 14:00 on Thursday.

Upload the animals

He said on the site: "@chopman @randomshona I will NEVER stop. They can stop roadblock notifications, even 'insulting' chirps, but I will never stop" and "@richardellerb trying to get 30 000 cops off my ass. Will return to 'normal' when the heat is off".

A PigSpotter group was also started on the social networking site Facebook on Wednesday and had reached just over 300 members on Thursday.

A user commented: "Take a picture with your cellphone clearly showing the identity of that corrupt pig, then upload the animals with short description of events, so that the world can view them for what they are."

Commented another: " Piggies trapping on Chris Hani (formally Old Potch Road) in Soweto (near the UJ Soweto Campus (formally Vista)). These name changes are a pain..." and "Would love to see them arrest everyone on this group for mentioning where bacon is...'might of the law'."

Twitter users in other provinces have now emerged modelling themselves on PigSpotter.

PigSpotterKZN and PigSpotterCPT, supply warnings about traffic action in Durban and Cape Town.

- SAPA
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