‘Book cops who ruin drink raps’

2009-06-27 00:00

CAMPAIGNERS against drunk driving are fed up with offenders getting off on technicalities and are calling for the prosecution of policemen whose sloppy work is to blame.

Their demand has been prompted by the case of soccer’s bad boy, Mbulelo ‘OJ’ Mabizela.

South Africans against Drunk Driving (SADD) will ask the SAPS Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) to take disciplinary action against the police officer who arrested Mabizela in Pietermaritzburg and the officer who arrested Pretoria high court judge Nkola Motata.

SADD founder Caro Smit said it is “appalling” that blood tests were taken only three hours after Motata’s crash.

She said both policemen failed to do their job.

“Police officers are taught and know that blood has to be taken within a two-hour period.

“They know that when they arrest a suspect they read them their rights.”

She said the officer who arrested Mabizela is a long-serving member of the SAPS.

“SADD plans to get the name of the police officer in Motata’s case and to report him or her to the ICD for this incompetence, and ask for a disciplinary hearing.”

This comes after Mabizela was acquitted at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court this week.

On his arrest, Mabizela was tested on a Dreager machine, which showed his breath-alcohol level was 1,09 mg per 1000 ml — equivalent to 10 tots of brandy.

However, Pietermaritzburg magistrate Dieter Schultz said Mabizela’s constitutional rights were not properly explained to him at his arrest and he was thus entitled to an acquittal.

Smit argues that the rights of the other road users “were put at risk because of Mabizela’s serious state of impairment”.

In Motata’s court case, it transpired that the blood test used by the state to show that the judge was at least four times over the legal blood- alcohol limit when he crashed his car may also be disputed because it was taken three hours after the accident.

Motala crashed his Jaguar into a wall in Hurlingham on January 6, 2007.

Smit also regretted the acquittal of Mabizela on the grounds that the arresting officer failed to explain his constitutional rights before placing him under arrest.

She asked magistrates, judges and public prosecutors to start taking elimination rates into account when weighing up the level of intoxication and the effect on driving skills.

“The court should know that if his [Motata’s] results are still so high after three hours, he was 0,015g less intoxicated than if he had been tested before the two hours were up,” said Smit.

“The elimination rate of alcohol is scientifically accepted to be a minimum of 0,015g per hour.

“So in fact whether it is a two-, three- or four-hour delay, it does not matter, as [long as] the level at the crash, or the two-hour level can be easily worked out.”

SA Police Service spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram previously said an internal investigation would be conducted on the Pietermaritzburg officer.

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