A video has emerged on Facebook showing an irate traffic cop arresting a driver who overtook a car on a double-sided line.
The officer then accuses the driver, who is white, of also driving on the painted island, which the driver denies.
The officer then asks “Are you trying to argue with me?” The driver acknowledges overtaking on the double-sided line, but again denies arguing with the officer, and tries to state his case.
The officer then threatens to lock up the driver, adding “Don’t tell me what I’ve seen. You want to tell that to the court?”
After this, the officer demands that the driver step out of the vehicle, citing that he will be arrested on charges of reckless and negligent driving. The driver complies, stepping out of the vehicle calmly.
Upon exiting the vehicle, the passenger carries on filming.
The officer introduces himself as Officer Mathupi, and proceeds to read the driver his memorandum rights. The driver tries to plead with the officer that he did not drive over the painted island, but his pleas are ignored as the officer continues to read him his rights.
The officer then requests that the driver follow him to the police station. The driver raises his hands and again tries to explain his plight, to which the officer reacts by accusing the driver of challenging his authority.
“I don’t need your attitude. I’m sick and tired of these white people trying to give me attitude.”
When the officer walks the driver back to his vehicle, he sees the passenger filming the incident, and loudly declares that “if you are going to take pics, you are going to lose your phone.”
As the video cuts out, the driver can be heard repeating “Please, sir…”, while the passenger also pleads with the officer not to arrest the driver.
In the comments section of the video, posted by South Africa Uncut, there was a hotly contested debate over whether the arrest of the driver was in fact legal, or if his attitude towards ‘white people giving him attitude’ is the reason for the arrest.
According to Sections 35 and 36 of the National Road Traffic Act, as cited by the Justice Project South Africa, any person caught driving negligently stopped at the time of the offence will be arrested. The procedures followed by the officer are, according the Act, legal, and asking the driver to follow the officer to the police station is legal as well.
The Act states that upon arrest, the offender will be taken to a police station for fingerprints and the registration of a criminal docket against their name. After this, the offender will be released on bail to appear in court at a stipulated date and time on the criminal charges brought against them. Failing to appear in court will lead to a warrant of arrest. The offender’s driving licence will also be suspended.
So, according to the Act, technically the traffic officer was just doing his job. However, the video has received criticism because of the officer alluding to the race of the driver, something that should not play a role in his arrest.
To make matters worse, there is no doubt that the officer judges the driver in question by referencing other unpleasant encounters with white drivers.
Another side of the story is white people questioning the portrayal of alleged racist videos in South Africa. There has been a public outcry among some white people who feel they also discriminated against, but that videos showing this do not get the same amount of traction or media attention as videos in which black people are discriminated against.