Leon Louw had an remarkable experience when he was unlawfully arrested at an illegal roadblock for questioning its legality and not for breaking any law. He points out that recently the Western Cape police boasted about arresting 7 drunk drivers. But they were 1% of those tested, and an unknown fraction of untested motorists, all of whom were subjected to interrogation, delays, congestion and frustration. He suggests that if SA’s 12-million vehicles are stopped monthly for 10 minutes on average, there are 144-million stops taking 24-million hours or 2,739 years. And assuming the average motorist would pay R50 to avoid the hassle, roadblocks are costing R7.2bn, the equivalent of about 72,000 RDP houses. If one in 10 pays a bribe averaging R100, it amounts to 14,000 more lost houses.
Read the full article first published yesterday by Business Day on the premium subscription service of BusinessLive as Yet another unlawful arrest at yet another illegal roadblock.
So it went. A commotion ensued among the cops. They ordered me out and arrested me unlawfully. Their obnoxious colleagues, shouting abuse, manhandled me into their car. One seized my phone to delete the video I was making. They took me to the airport charge office where they presented me to their chief.
We argued ad nauseam, he asking why I was troublesome; me asking why I was arrested. I explained I would condone roadblocks if they did not cause congestion, if vehicles were pulled over without blocking lanes, if drivers were asked for licences or searches as a favour, not a right, and if they were properly authorised.
After I corrected his legal misconceptions, he subsided and said they were not properly taught. When released, I pointed out that because I was under arrest, I had to be charged. Bemused, he begged me to go.
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Websites define motorists’ rights at roadblocks without questioning their legality. People seem to know they should not be stopped and searched as pedestrians or have homes and offices searched without warrants or “reasonable suspicion” (as required by law), yet they accept roadblocks unquestioningly.
Police and politicians ignore road safety and other effects of roadblocks such as motorists becoming agitated or speeding to make up for lost time.