Pregnant motorist lays charge after traffic cop slaps her across the face

2010-03-01 00:00

A HEAVILY pregnant motorist got the “shock of her life” yesterday when a woman Msunduzi traffic officer slapped her through the open window of her vehicle, after she decided to cross over an intersection between runners participating in the Postnet Weekend Witness Maritzburg Marathon.

Buyisiwe Makhoba, who works as a customer services co-ordinator for aluminium processor Hulamin, said she was driving to work shortly before 6 am when the incident happened at the intersection of Washington and Oribi roads.

Stunned and outraged, Makhoba sent an e-mail to The Witness describing the incident. “As I was approaching Oribi, I realised that the PMB Marathon was going to delay me for a couple of minutes.

“There was a young black lady traffic police officer who was directing traffic at that intersection,” said Makhoba.

“As there were gaps between the groups of runners she would allow for a little bit of traffic to flow. As most drivers at that time are in a hurry to their various destinations, a few of us were getting impatient as she was not letting any of us through, even though there was safe space for motorists to pass.”

Makhoba said as she was passing through, the traffic officer stuck her hand in her window and “struck my face in anger”.

“I could not stop or protest against what she did as I had to get to work. Second of all, I am 35 weeks pregnant and feel highly violated as a PMB citizen as well as an expectant mother. It is also unfortunate that I cannot name and shame her as I do not know her name.

“To describe my experience in a few words: I feel violated, ashamed to be a young black professional working in PMB. No other human being has the right to strike another human being, no matter how frustrated that person is,” she said.

Makhoba said in a later interview that she was upset and startled and had decided that if she stopped at the scene, it would cause more traffic congestion.

She said she did not suffer any serious injury, although her right eye was watering constantly as a result of her face being struck.

Makhoba said she was initially undecided about whether to lay a criminal charge of assault against the traffic officer, because she did not know her name, but she later brought a charge at Alexandra Road police station.

She said that besides showing complete disregard for her dignity, the incident could have caused an accident had she hit another car, and there was a risk she could have gone into early labour due to the shock.

Makhoba said the matter calls into question how well trained the city’s traffic police are and said with the soccer world cup approaching and the arrival of foreign visitors, it is a cause for concern.

“How will such incidents portray our traffic police to the world? Are our traffic police above the law?” she asked.

Superintendent Kwenza Khumalo, who is in charge of the Msunduzi traffic department, expressed shock and embarrassment when he was told of the allegations by The Witness.

He said that even if Makhoba failed to obey the instructions of the traffic officer, that was no reason to assault her.

“We are there to protect and serve the public … It is totally unprofessional and unacceptable conduct by a traffic officer and we will investigate the matter,” said Khumalo.

He invited Makhoba to lodge a formal complaint in writing. “I am obliged to give both parties an opportunity to state their case and that will be done,” he added.

Makhoba said she will write to Khumalo.

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