‘Too slow in fast lane’

2010-11-16 00:00

TRAFFIC officer Edward Xolani Mtshali said yesterday he had “pushed” motorist Jude Ward at Camperdown police station on January 18 because she “jumped” at him in a bid to get her cellphone.

Giving evidence at Ward’s trial for alleged inconsiderate driving and failing to obey a traffic officer, Mtshali told magistrate T.Z. Nkosi he took Ward’s cellphone to stop her taking photographs of him.

He claimed she ignored repeated demands to hand him her driver’s licence.

“She lost her balance and knelt down … When she got up she had her hands on her head, crying.”

“I continued and said to her, ‘I require your [driver’s] licence’. I told her, ‘Since you don’t want to co-operate with me I am going to arrest you’.

“Then she took the licence and threw it on the counter. She said: ‘F**k the licence’.”

Asked why Ward was crying, Mtshali said he couldn’t say.

“But as a traffic officer … even if you charge a lady on the road for a minor offence, they start crying,” he said.

Defence advocate Christo van Schalkwyk accused Mtshali in cross-examination of “gross abuses”, including his “unconstitutional action” in personally approaching and taking two statements from the only other eyewitness in the case, motorist Phillipe Denis.

The second statement, the purpose of which was to correct the date which was wrongly recorded as September 2009 on the original, was then “falsely” dated January 19, 2010.

It was also not signed by the person who allegedly administered the oath.

Mtshali admitted he was present when the statements were typed by Denis and that they had “a conversation” about the events that happened that day, but said he only told him to write down what he saw.

He had traced Denis via his car registration.

Mtshali said that before the incident at the police station, Ward had obstructed traffic on the N3 by driving slowly in the fast lane, “brushing her hair” and looking in the mirror. He said she “waved” her hand at him in response to his siren and blue lights.

She also ignored his shouted instructions on a “PA system” to stop, and had endangered other road users by trying to pass a truck transporting a dangerous substance in the emergency lane.

“The truck was swaying … it could have overturned and the occupants could have burned. Maybe dangerous gases could have escaped,” he said.

Van Schalkwyk suggested to Mtshali he fabricated the story about the truck as Ward has not been charged with that offence, despite it being the “most dangerous” behaviour Mtshali now claimed she is guilty of.

Mtshali said he first noticed Ward “blocking” traffic at the Lion Park. “I noticed the driver in front wanting to overtake. I saw lights flashing, reflecting off [Ward’s] black motor vehicle and I heard the sound of a hooter.”

“The lady was busy brushing her hair and looking at herself in the mirror. As I’m always on the road, I have noticed that women like to look at themselves in the mirror,” he added.

Mtshali alleged that, despite there being “gaps”, Ward did not move left. “Its a golden rule in South Africa that you must keep left,” he said.

The case was postponed to November 30 for Mtshali’s cross-examination to continue.

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