Unmarked cars: A fair cop?

2009-10-13 00:00

PRETORIA — In today’s climate of violent crime, the police must issue an order stating that officers in unmarked vehicles are not allowed to pull people over.

This was said yesterday by Dr Johan Burger, senior researcher with the Institute for Security Studies.

Burger referred to several incidents in which criminals pretending to be police have robbed or hijacked people.

“This particular order must definitely be released, so the public can be aware of the order.

“Where people are stopped by police in an unmarked police vehicle, it is highly unlikely that they are real members of the SAPS,” said Burger.

His advice to a motorist who isn’t sure if it really is the police, is to drive calmly to a place such as a shop or a petrol station, where there are people and it’s safe.

“A dangerous thing to do is to race off. That could serve as justification for the police to shoot.”

But national police spokesman Phuti Setati said that if police in a vehicle with a fixed blue light signal you to pull over, you should.

Setati acknowledged that there have been cases where criminals pretend to be police, but those are “very, very rare”.

“The police can pull you over to warn you about danger farther ahead. When you’re not completely sure, motion with your hands that the police should follow you, while you phone 10111.

“You should explain that you suspect you’re being followed by a vehicle with blue lights on that specific road. Police officials in the area will come to your location,” said Setati.

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