While illegal street racing continues to be a thorn in the side of the City’s enforcement agencies, ongoing enforcement by Traffic Services’ Ghost Squad is helping to keep speedsters in check.
The City of Cape Town’s Ghost Squad continues to put the squeeze on illegal street racers. The unit conducts weekly operations in areas deemed hot spots for illegal street racing or ‘dicing’ as it is more commonly known. These hot spots include Ottery, Athlone, Grassy Park, Milnerton, Bothasig, Mitchells Plain, Belhar and Bellville South.
Between January 2015 and January 2016, officers recorded 26 977 offences. Among these were:
· 234 reckless and negligent driving arrests
· 638 drunk driving arrests
· 988 fines for unlicensed drivers
· 42 arrests for other criminal offences
‘We’ve seen a reduction in the prevalence of illegal street racing. That’s due in part to our ongoing enforcement efforts but also the robot racing events at Killarney race track that allow car enthusiasts to race against each other on a track instead of the street. However, as the statistics show, we still have a massive challenge with those who insist on turning public roads into a very dangerous playground. It’s a bit of a cat-and-mouse game, because they change locations regularly as well as the days of the week to try and throw us off, but our officers stay on the prowl and are usually able to spoil the party,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.It has long been a concern for the Traffic Service that many of the illegal racers are young people using their parents’ vehicles without their knowledge. Even more concerning is the number of instances where minors are found in vehicles participating in races, often with their older brothers, fathers or cousins. The Ghost Squad has also seen their fair share of cases where passengers turn on officers and obstruct them in the execution of their duties. During a recent operation in the Milnerton area, an officer had to contend with a female passenger who offered sexual favours in an attempt to dissuade him from charging the driver of the vehicle she was in. She was charged with solicitation.
‘It’s unfortunate that we have to devote such significant resources to police bad behaviour fuelled by a reckless need for speed. I also call on parents to do some serious introspection about allowing their children on the road in their cars – not just behind the wheel but also in the back seat. If people were more accountable for their actions, we wouldn’t have to babysit them and could divert our resources elsewhere. We’ve also started rolling out dashboard cameras in our traffic vehicles and more will follow. This should make prosecution in reckless and negligent driving cases much easier,’ added Alderman Smith.
Elsewhere on the roads, City traffic officers arrested 127 motorists over the past week (including 75 for outstanding warrants), impounded 19 vehicles during an operation in Sea Point, and issued 1 435 fines. In one incident on Friday 20 January 2017, a motorist refused to stop at a roadblock in Strandfontein and sped off instead. Officers gave chase and the motorist was eventually arrested when he stopped at his residence in the area. He was charged with reckless and negligent driving, drunk driving, and attempted murder for trying to run over the officers at the roadblock.
Also in Strandfontein, the City’s Law Enforcement Department arrested two suspects in Bayview in the early hours of Sunday morning, 22 January 2017. Officers on patrol found the men from Lavender Hill walking around in the area and a search revealed that they were in possession of a dangerous weapon and a crowbar. They admitted that they had been dropped off by their accomplices with the intention of breaking into homes in the area. In the city centre, two Law Enforcement officers arrested a hijacking suspect at approximately 01:25 on Saturday 21 January 2017. The officers assisted the South African Police Service in chasing two suspects who had hijacked a vehicle in Observatory. In the CBD, the suspects abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot. The Law Enforcement officers caught one of them and found him in possession of an unlicensed handgun and five rounds of ammunition.
The City’s Metro Police Department arrested a further 39 suspects: 22 for drunk driving and 17 for possession of drugs. In one incident in Macassar on Saturday, officers attached to the Gang and Drug Task Team stopped and searched a white VW Polo after the vehicle had earlier been spotted at a well-known drug outlet. Officers found tik with an estimated street value of R2 000 in the car as well as R10 210 in cash. Both the driver and passenger were arrested and detained at the Macassar police station.