Tshwane motorists can expect to be ambushed by Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) officers during this festive season as some would go “incognito” and not wear the uniform during traffic operations.
Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga and TMPD chief Johanna Nkomo launched the road safety festive season where they both vowed to reduce road accidents and fatalities in the capital city.
As in previous festive road safety operations, TMPD officers will concentrate on all routes with high traffic volumes to focus on pedestrian safety, overloaded trailers, public transport vehicles, drunk driving and speeding.
Officers will be deployed on the N1, N4, the deadly Moloto Road, R101, N14, R21 and the Mabopane Highway (R80).
But officers from time to time will not be clad in their uniform during these operations, Msimanga said.
“We are not going to disclose what the plans are but there will be serious visible policing,” said Msimanga. “Our police will also be incognito from time to time where they will not be in uniform, but will be able to stop and do searches to ensure our people really arrive alive and are able to come back next year.”
He sent a stern warning to officers who intend to solicit bribes from motorists, promising to “deal with them”.
“To the men in uniform, I hope this won’t be seen as a time to generate your own bonuses by getting money under the car mats,” he said. “We will ensure that we deal with that. You have seen how we have dealt with some of these incidents during the year.”
Nkomo urged motorists to be wary of their load as their vehicles could be taken in for weighing.
“We have weighbridges and we will take you out of the road to weigh you, which could be about 20km away from where you are,” she said. “We are allowed to do that. Be careful of your load and focus on enforcing road safety as the community won’t see the [officers] coming.”
According to Justice Project SA (JPSA), whether an officer was in uniform or not, they were granted the power to stop a vehicle that either commits an offence or is reasonably suspected of having being involved in the offence.
But the move to go incognito was “nonsensical” and can only be done so once authorisation has been received by the director of public prosecutions in the city, JPSA’s Howard Dembovsky said.
“I don’t understand the logic of the mayor and the chief of police that this is any way necessary.
“I am not of the view that covert policing in respect of road traffic offences is at all necessary, given the fact that people regularly commit road traffic offences in plain view of uniformed police and traffic officers.
“I think it is a foolish move. At a time that visible policing should be heightened, the concept of introducing covert policing is nonsensical …”