Attorney forced into wet police van

2011-11-19 09:55

Pietermaritzburg - An attorney intends to sue police over what he believes was his illegal and “embarrassing” arrest and detention in the back of a police van for half-an-hour because he could not produce his driver’s licence when he was stopped at a roadblock.

But police responded on Friday by claiming that the attorney had been transporting alleged illegal immigrants in his double-cab bakkie.

The attorney, who asked not to be named for professional reasons, is representing one of five accused on trial in the high court for the 2009 robbery and murder of retired university academic Professor Samuel Zondi, 71.

While travelling to work along Greytown Road at 08:05, he was stopped at a roadblock jointly manned by police and traffic officials.

The attorney said he was informed that a police colonel, Paula Usher of Mountain Rise, whom he described as “rude and aggressive”, was in charge of the operation.

When he told her that he had left his driver’s licence at home but that someone could bring it “in five minutes”, she “wouldn’t listen”.


She instructed two traffic officials to detain him in the back of the police van, he said. He joined five other people who were already in the back.

The attorney said the inside was wet and he objected to getting in as he was wearing a suit. The officers wiped the seat with newspaper and he was then made to get in.

One of them apologised to him, but said he had to obey instructions.

He said he was detained for at least half-an-hour before he was released without being fined.

“After my wife came with my licence I still had to wait,” he said.

On the allegation that he was transporting illegal immigrants, the attorney said he had picked up four casual workers at Swapo and was taking them to work when he was stopped at the roadblock.

“The police are using this to cover their backs. I don’t even know them.

“It has nothing to do with the reason for my detention, which was the fact that I didn’t have my driver’s licence on me,” he insisted.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said the attorney was one of many drivers stopped at the vehicle checkpoint. He had been afforded an opportunity to have someone bring him his licence and was released.

Jeevan said he was treated with the same respect and dignity as the other people who were arrested, but it seemed as if he had expected preferential treatment because of the office he holds.

“To compound matters he was allegedly transporting undocumented foreign nationals in his vehicle.

“These men have been detained by the police pending deportation.

“The arresting officer acted within her mandate as a law enforcement officer,” said Jeevan, adding that it is an offence not to possess one’s licence while driving.

  • Louise - 2011-11-19 10:02

    Just because you have a law degree my man doesn't mean that you get preferential treatment! You know the law - a person needs to have their licence on them when driving!

      Chris - 2011-11-19 10:14

      I agree. Attorneys are special - 'specially bad! They think they can manipulate the law and are a cut above the rest of us. He allegedly broke the law, prosecute him and let the court decide.

      Deeteem - 2011-11-19 10:26

      I totall agree, the law is the law finish and klaar !!!

      Vincent - 2011-11-19 10:30

      He wasn't asking for preferential treatment. The fact is he did not need to be put into the back of a wet van to wait for his wife, he could of just waited inside the car and the police could of even taken his keys if they thought he was going to drive off. People are just assuming he wanted to be treated specially or preferentially because he is a lawyer and these people probably know that he has achieved more than them, hence their opinions becomes biased.

      Jack - 2011-11-19 10:45

      Please Louise, guess you kind of guy who’s never forgotten his wallet. We live in the 21 Century, police can easily access the driver license data base remotely and check whether the driver had indeed been issued with license. The cops of today are criminals looking for brides just like the rest of our leaders. All corrupt to the last drop.

      Razz - 2011-11-19 11:05

      Guys I agree, the law is there for everybody. Nobody is or supposed to be above the law. Now why is the same principal not applied to politicians.

      BMcB - 2011-11-19 11:25

      @Vincent: If “he wasn't asking for preferential treatment” then what’s the problem because he was put into the police van with five others for similar offences?

      Levett - 2011-11-19 12:13

      So it's OK to you if someone is treated like a criminal when he forgot his license at home? So typical of the new SA where the real criminals get VIP treatment while normal citizens are criminalized.

      Ari - 2011-11-19 13:31

      One thing is for sure - an attorney who is messed about by the pigs can take the matter to court and it doesn't cost him a cent. if he wins, the damages are tax free. It's nice being an attorney sometimes.

      Shadoz - 2011-11-19 14:34

      so you people have never forgotten your licences at home? please don't come with "the law is the law" you do forget. sickening how some of you think. catch a wake up

      Spyker - 2011-11-19 18:21

      Even if some of us know the name of the attorney/lawyer involved in this incident, it is equally reckless to ostracise him- and/or his profession. Every profession have people taking advantage of that that their profession allows - some even regard it a right, viz a 'given privilege' (needless to say, it is only the mentally disturbed among us that would claim such "privileges" - needless to say, it still happens). Need I go further than this country’s ‘politicians’ to substantiate my point..? A country’s police force is in many ways its ‘moral beacon’. I challenge you to look at any country and you will find a startling correlation between the behaviour of its police force and the level of civility in that country. I can easily turn this argument around and say that the police’s aim was simply to humiliate and recklessly intimidate this individual (and accordingly, he has certain unwavering rights and I suspect, the individual in question knows this). As a moral beacon – the fundamentals of protecting society against crime- and criminals are after all stooped in MORALS – the police should stay resolute in their professionalism and their absolute unwavering unbiased conduct. But herein – this very specific word “bias” – lies the fundamental flaw that is the South Africa Police Force in 2011. Trevor Manual said the SAPS should be de-militarised, I say, the SAPS 1st has to be DE-POLITICISED. cont. below..,

      Spyker - 2011-11-19 18:21

      The SAPS is simply one of the many ‘tools’ employed by a FASCIST, BLACK NATIONALIST REGIME, mandated to oppress and consequently inhibit every conceivable- and practicable aspect of the lives of SA’s white minority. Each person's measure of minimum standards of decency, differ vastly, specifically in a country that is as abnormally diverse as SA. There are however NO conceivable reason why a person who has committed a minor traffic offense should be detained – in fact, it is illegal on an ad hoc basic (iow with a warrent). Briefly some SAPS stats: - Only half the cases reported to the SAPS are resolved (ie 52%). - Less than 1/3rd even get to the courts (31%). This is worst measured in the world. - Only 27% of murders are solved by police and 28% of murders- and armed robberies get to the courts. This is worst measured in the world. - In SA, a criminal has an (around) 85% chance of getting away with a crime – this is the highest likelihood measured in the world. - Only 15% of high-jackings and armed robberies at private home- and businesses are solved – this is by a long margin the worst measured in the world. Only the ‘wilfully-blind’ will not see this is not DELIBERATE inaction by the SAPS. There is a lot more, but enough for now. The reason the SAPS is so ineffective, does not reside with the SAPS, it resides with the fact that the SAPS is the ARMED WING of a fascist, black nationalist, totalitarian regime. cont. below..,

      Spyker - 2011-11-19 18:21

      Its mandate is not to protect- and serve the public – that is simply an inconvenient requisite facade – its purpose is to violently enforce the political agenda of a fascist regime – eg to terrorise a certain minority group in SA. We have seemingly forgotten that we are NOT subjected to the police- and/or the sate – THEY ARE SUBJECTED TO US..! The police and the state work for the people of the country. The law is the law, no doubt, BUT, what is the purpose of the law..? We have ostensibly forgotten that the law is there to protect all the honest-, hard-working, tax-paying people of a country. In SA however, the law has become the diametric opposite and is used to oppress- and extort from (iow STEAL) from a minority. VERY BRIEFLY: the public hand their weapons (of self-defence) to their government IN GOOD FAITH. The “good faith” act is done on the basis of the government – via the police, army, etc – provide unconditional protection to the citizens who fund the said government. The moment the government breaks this agreement, the citizens have an immediate a deficio right (ie ‘default’ – iow by virtue of the failure of the government in this case). What the fascist, black nationalist regime has done, is: they have-, are- and will clandestinely – iow by stealth – criminalise almost every aspect of being a white SAcan. cont. below..,

      Spyker - 2011-11-19 18:22

      This is one of the key reasons they required such an abnormal amount of information during the last census – it is required to implement (supposed) laws to criminalise every aspect of being white in SA and as such banish the white minority to “economic concentration camps”. These will be worse than the Nazi gas-chamber, as at least the latter, dealt with you in a quick and decisive manner. Already every effort that is possible “below-the-radar”, is made to prevent white SAcans from starting new businesses-, enter- or re-enter the job-market, in fact even to attain a tertiary education (or at least certain tertiary qualifications). I do not have any details of the case, but a number of questions arise, inter alia.., - Why was a road-block held in an area where a lawyer would drive around..? Perhaps to terrorise a certain section of the SAcan population..? This was exactly the kind of tactics employed by another totalitarian nationalist regime – ie Nazi Germany. - Why are ‘minor-offence’ offenders treated like hardened criminals – actually, often worse..? This at initial arrest..! The police are NOT the ‘judge, jury and executioner’ – NEVER. In fact, hardened criminals are living Sandton and are escorted to the airport by a blue-light escort. Hardened Nigerian-druglords practice their trade with absolute impunity, in public places, then the police brazenly refuse to raid the relevant place (keep track of the Chanelle Henning case.., no more said). cont. below..,

      Chris - 2011-11-19 21:23

      Spyker - you got verbal diarreoha?

      Zebelon - 2011-11-20 09:04

      It is not a crime not to have your licence with you, Louise; detention is not called for and is wrong - for the lawyer and anybody in a similar situation. Please learn and understand the laws of this country. If the police show ignorance of the law, don't join them.

      deabreu - 2012-10-14 10:26

      I disagree with this stupid law - everyone and any one can and do forget their drivers' license at some point in their lives. If a person is legally licensed to drive, it means that they should be able to drive. Just because they don't have an apartheid-style pass (which btw is one of Shakes' businesses! How ironic that we are forced to get a license from government's buddies?!) on them, it does not mean that they cannot drive nor does it mean that they are not licensed to drive. And the lawyer also says that the police are now making excuses to cover themselves, which is bad. Irrespective of how I feel about lawyers.

  • Anno - 2011-11-19 10:05

    After successful litigation, please sue Colonel Paula Usher in her private capacity to recover the taxpayers' money that she so flippantly squanders...

      Leon - 2011-11-19 11:20

      o my word but your engrish is good i can see on your profile smile(Bit yellow)that you went all the way past varsity Please help any more corrections twat Die afrikaner sukkel maar met sy engrish mar soos die franse nie skaam daaroor nie

  • logical007 - 2011-11-19 10:12

    The police were doing their job and were in the right to hold this lawyer who thinks his above the law if he is not driving with his license as required. He is lucky he didn't get a fine. As for driving with illegal immigrants - the attorney said "he had picked up four casual workers at Swapo and was taking them to work" - which is still illegal if they are illegal immigrants. - Being a lawyer surely he should know that!

      Kala - 2011-11-19 12:40

      It is very suspicious. Lawyers don't do anything for free. Like give casual labourers lifts. What ever.

  • Masiagwala Alilali Allie - 2011-11-19 10:14


  • nixwest - 2011-11-19 10:14

    This is harrassment - I have been stopped before and couldn't produce my drivers license. I was given a fine and given a certain time period to go to the local town's traffic department to produce my license and to pay the fine (which is reduced should you produce the fine before paying). I am not sure if the law varies btwn regions, which would not make sense! Or maybe the traffic officers in the Cape are just friendlier and more professional?

      elspeth.hassall - 2011-11-19 10:28

      This guy was lucky...he was given the opportunity to have his wife bring his license, and was not fined! Now he makes a big fuss...I would be grateful if I were him...looser!

      logical007 - 2011-11-19 10:30

      Exactly - you were given a fine. He opted to have someone bring his license - "When he told her that he had left his driver’s licence at home but that someone could bring it “in five minutes". The police had to then hold him until the license was presented. This attorney is attempting to get his 5minutes of fame!!!!

      king.rasta.583 - 2012-10-13 18:34

      yes if u couldn"t produce drivers licence,u are given a tiket of [R500] and u take your licence to traffic department , u pay R100 admission of guilt not to locked up like hardcore criminal.

  • Vegi - 2011-11-19 10:20

    The police are more often than not very arrogant, a law unto themselves and very rude. On what basis must a person be thrown into a police van for failing to carry a licence, especially if he says someone is bringing the licence. Dealing with the police is mostly a very unpleasant experience, most lack common sense and are loath to complicate the easiest of situations. Please sue the state that employs idiots.

      Sharon - 2011-11-19 11:31

      your description of the police mentality makes them look like anc supporters

  • Keith - 2011-11-19 10:27

    Where is Poetermaritzburg? Oh I forgot, the editors must be enjoying their weekend!

      Gavin - 2011-11-19 10:42

      Did'nt you know? Poetermaritzburg is at the 'arse' end of Pietermaritzburg ;-)

  • Anton - 2011-11-19 10:28

    Strange... Usually it's a spot fine of R500 for driving without a licence, not arrest.

      Vegi - 2011-11-19 10:31

      Exactly my point. The man must sue the idiot state that employ fools.

  • Shirley - 2011-11-19 10:32

    Lawyers are under the same rule as everyone else and all the more reason he should know that licences are to be produced and carried at all times. As for the other allegations-smoke =fire?

      Vegi - 2011-11-19 10:44

      As if he left the licence on purpose. Your statement lacks logic. Also I don't think that the fact that he is a lawyer has anything to do with his complaint. The treatment meted out to him could have annoyed anyone at the receiving end of such unwarranted aggression and overzealousness.

  • guyt1 - 2011-11-19 10:34

    I think the police can be over zealous . There are so many crimes going on out there . To arrest you for not having your license on you is ridiculous. Give the man a fine and do your job.\ These police sometimes have their priorities screwed up/

      king.rasta.583 - 2012-10-13 18:40

      yes my man

  • jamesbond - 2011-11-19 10:37

    sue the arrogant issues.

  • Chabi - 2011-11-19 10:47

    How many unidentified people should be allowed to loiter around a police operation such as a road block while waiting for someone to bring their identification ? moreso if these people have illegal immigrants, which they "don't know" on the back of their vans ?.. you got off lucky some one even wiped of a seat for you, they should have thrown you in a "pit"...must police put their lives in such a risk for fear of news24 false-journalists ?

  • Lucky - 2011-11-19 10:53

    He should be thankful that "...the officers wiped the seat with newspaper ..." before he sat. Apparently he complained because he was wearing a suit. Wonder what he would have been wearing so that he could sit without complaining of the wet van!!

  • Christopher Hart - 2011-11-19 10:56

    He, the lawyer, should know that driving without a license is still against the law, no matter if the license is with someone else close-by you should keep your license on you at all times. As for driving with supposed 'illegal immigrants', how the hell is he supposed to know if they are here legally or not.

  • SirFGrumpy - 2011-11-19 11:00

    They cannot detain or arrest you for not carrying your license. Someone is being plain dorf!

      jkmula - 2011-11-19 12:05


  • - 2011-11-19 11:12

    Ag shame... the law is the law.. you of all people Mr Attorney should know that better than anybody else!

  • Victor - 2011-11-19 11:19

    I think I'm going to commit a murder. When they come to arrest me, I'll put on a suit and expect them not to arrest me. They better have leather seats at the back of those vans. As for why he was put in the back of the van, it was done to protect the officers. What if he had a knife on hom or a gun?

  • David - 2011-11-19 11:23

    "...he was treated with the same respect and dignity as the other people who were arrested..." none at all. I have to agree with Vincent, that they say he wanted preferential treatment because he's a lawyer is nonesense. He just wanted decent treatment..and the other people deserve that same respect. Its a joke that the police spokesperson actually makes an official statment that people are all treated that badly..

  • David - 2011-11-19 11:24

    "...he was treated with the same respect and dignity as the other people who were arrested..." none at all. I have to agree with Vincent, that they say he wanted preferential treatment because he's a lawyer is nonesense. He just wanted decent treatment..and the other people deserve that same respect. Its a joke that the police spokesperson actually makes an official statment that people are all treated that badly..

  • Shirley - 2011-11-19 11:25

    Vegi: how can my statement not make sense-wether he left his licence on purpose or not isnt the ISSUE. The law is the law-I didnt make it and may not like it but I am required to adhere to it. If you are fined for an offence do you tell the officer "I didnt speed on purpose,I wasnt thinking? As annoying as it might be its still the law! So who doesnt make sense?

  • Shirley - 2011-11-19 11:27

    Vegi: p.s. IF he was suspected of transporting illegal imigrants then they had every right to detain him.

  • Simon - 2011-11-19 11:28

    To all of you guys , the police could have given him a fine and then he could go to the magistrate and produce his lisence, which happens everywhere in South Africa. You then end up paying R150 for not having your licence with you and not for NOT HAVING A LICENCE AT ALL.If the Police , RTI , Traffic Dep did their job they would have asked for his ID or ID number and contacted their control room to make sure that he has got a licence .On confirming this they could have fined him . That is for everyone. I know , I have had it before happen to me. If he did not have a licence at all , yes then you get locked up , but not for not producing a licence. It does not matter who you are , no one deserves to be locked up for nothing . Everybody has forgotten their licences at home before and most of you haven't been stopped (lucky), If you were stopped , and the police arrested you , wouldn't you be unhappy , Its the same as when a traffic cop stops you for speeding and he cant show a calibration certificate, you cant be finned , that's the law. Sometimes the Police do go out of control and forget what they are there for , And just a Quistion , was his Rights read to him , by who , the two traffic officials , THEY ARE NOT A POLICE OFFICER OR A COMMISSIONER

      Arvin - 2011-11-19 11:41

      Well said. Agree that the Police needs to know the law themselves.

      DanielDennett - 2011-11-19 12:29

      Well said Simon for one of the few decent comments , I don't think most of the posters even understand the privilege of a constitutional democracy. These cops are a disgrace and more tax payer's money will be used paying damages.

  • AJ - 2011-11-19 12:10

    Driving without your license is a R600 fine, not an arrest! Power-trippin' cops...

  • Andre - 2011-11-19 12:25

    What a lot of bs., arrested for not having a drivers license when there are other means to check his credibility & the humiliation, its totaly over the top!!

  • Cracker - 2011-11-19 12:37

    Surely there must be a rational purpose to arresting somebody. A law enforcer is not obliged to arrest every suspect. They have a discretion which must be exercised in accordance with the specific circumstances and facts at their disposal and always with caution against depriving others of their movement of freedom. In other words, be reasonable. This is not supposed to be an irrational police state in which we citizens are being subjected to the moods and whims of individual law enforcers. The custom to just arrest or detain as mood and/or convenience dictate must be halted.

      king.rasta.583 - 2012-10-13 18:53

      thank u sir

  • Mary - 2011-11-19 17:38

    I was stopped the other day and asked to show my licence. I thought I had it with me together with my shopping cards in a little wallet, but for the life of me I couldn't find it. So the cop leans over, points to my wallet and says, 'Madam here it is' - and then laughed, adding, 'I see so many I can find one anywhere.' So maybe the traffic officers are more human where I live (WCape)?

  • CyberDog - 2011-11-19 18:28

    Putting someone in a back of a van for not producing a license is illegal and against human rights, this is the same type of mentality as the vicious apartheid style abuse. There is a legal procedure to follow before locking someone up, including using the finger reading machines allocated to the traffic department at the cost of millions to the tax payer. Allowing police to not to follow procedures and the law, and to allow them the abuse of citizens opens the door to a big pile of sh1t. Ask Mugabe, this is his specialty. Allowing police and military to answer to the state, and not to the citizens it is meant to protect. South Africa is well on its way down a very steep and slippery slope...

  • Rob - 2011-11-19 18:38

    As far as I can see just about everyone has missed an important issue. It is not about preferrential treatment, neither is it about treatment within the law. It IS about treatment that does not disrespect the individual. An offence may have been commmited, it certainly seems like it was, but it also seems like it was a minor infringement. So why was it neccesary to subject the attorney AND the others to holding in the back of the van. Third world approach for sure, and it is just taken for granted.....and if it was your wife, child or mother how would you feel?

  • Sharkshoot - 2011-11-19 20:40

    There's my version, your version...and then there's the truth...sounds like another one of those incidents where the egos got in the way..

  • Billy - 2011-11-19 21:38

    @Louise and the rest defending the cops. Not being in possession of your licence whilse driving is not an arresting offence, in the same way as travelling 72kph in a 60kph zone doesn't get you arrested - you should be fined. Typical of the cops to focus on the victimless crimes while other more serious crime goes on under their noses..

  • DurbanSquatter - 2011-11-19 22:01

    Spyker What .....What>>>>>>and What are you smoking my man

  • Lauden Kirk - 2011-11-20 09:10

    Police run state. They have bad rude manners they may hide behind there badge but when you get home trust me what goes around comes around.

  • Russell - 2011-11-21 07:16

    Its time to stand together people!

  • Vuyolwethu - 2011-11-21 10:42

    Traffic dept mst come up with a device tht thy punch in id number n it shows tht prsn has a licence or nt. Its easy to forget a wallet at home.

  • JLWilson - 2011-12-23 21:50

    Good for the cops. Lawyers abuse their power and think that they are a law unto themselves. As the spokesperson said "he was treated any differently to others caught for the same offence". And who in this day and age "just picks up people on their way to work". Most certainly not a lawyer!

  • tiaan.vanderberg.75 - 2012-10-13 22:48

    it is only 98% of the lawyers that make the other 2% look bad!

  • bikefinalert - 2012-10-14 02:11

    People you all missing the point here, yes been an attorney does not give you preferential treatment, but the law does not state that should you not have your licence on you, you will be arrested. If you don't have your licence on you, they can fine you and force you to show your licence at the nearest police station within 24 hours. So here I agree with this attorney, I say sue them as too many NEW police officers make their own laws.

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