Blog: PigSpotter

2010-09-15 00:00

If PigSpotter understood anything more about Twitter or social media other than how to do it, he would have told Kieno Kammies to take a hike.

In fact, if Kammies understood anything about social media, the Radio702 presenter would never have made the offer in the first place.

A quick recap: @PigSpotter (his pseudonum on Twitter), known to the public only as Cliff, tweets on road blocks and speed traps in the Gauteng area.

For example: "Ham fritters roadblocking on Main Rd M71 in Kyalami. Random pulling over, checking licenses" or "The pork chops trapping jan smuts near the westcliff hotel".

So this morning, Kammies bartered a deal - that PigSpotter would stop tweeting about road blocks in exchange for Kammies dedicating a portion of his show weekly to rooting out corruption in the police force.

PigSpotter's reasoning goes like this: too often women (and men) are victimised by policemen at roadblocks, usually through bribery. At 5pm on the way home, the last thing he wants is his girlfriend (or any law-abiding citizen) to be in a pickle with some corrupt cop. You just want them to get home safely, without incident.

Kammies's argument goes like this: if you tweet about a roadblock, criminals are as likely to tap into that information as are law-abiding citizens. So if Kammies's house has just been broken into and the culprit(s) are making off with his possessions, they'll be able to bypass police roadblocks.

I was listening to the live stream when PigSpotter just gave in. He just crumbled to the first bidder. I was hoping he'd be more serious about his convictions. I was hoping he would understand the power he was just beginning to leverage – both within his region and wider to the rest of the country. I was hoping he was going tell the jock to tweet him when he had a more lucrative offer, or stop wasting his time.

Yesterday, PigSpotter had built up a steady following of just under 6000. In 4 hours, he gained over 400 Twitter followers, had been a feature on the 5fm morning radio show and was written about in a number of newspapers, and was then interviewed on Radio702. Things were just starting to get serious – and the issue was just starting to get prominence… the issue of corruption in the police force.

But the deal was struck on the last radio show and now there are no roadblocks, just speedtraps being tweeted about.

The purpose of PigSpotter is to root out corruption. I like that. While his focus is specific to traffic law enforcement, the idea permeates to other areas of focus for General Bheki Cele and his squadron of "chest-out stomach-in" police officers.

At the rate PigSpotter was going, he would have eventually bargained with the president. That would have been cool. But now we're left with a promise from a regional radio station DJ to deal with the issue of corruption on the radio, when who knows what PigSpotter could have leveraged in a week's time...

The issue for me is that being stopped at a roadblock is seldom pleasant. While I will follow procedure, it feels like I'm being unnecessarily interrogated, and so respect is not something I feel for those men in uniform.

Maybe the police force should look at rebranding itself with the law-abiding South Africans.

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