By Fiona Gounden
A Durban woman has laid a charge of theft after she said she was allegedly robbed by a Metro motorcycle policeman on Friday.
Sally Russell, 46, was on her way home from work in Stamfordhill Road and said as she turned into Leopold Street the officer had flashed his blue lights and ordered her to stop.
"I was way below the speed limit. I stopped my car, got out and walked towards him. He screamed at me to get back into my car and open my driver's side window. The bike was branded with the metro police logo. He was in full uniform.
"He walked towards me and I was extremely afraid. He then stood next to my window and asked for my licence. As I was taking my licence out of my purse he grabbed all the notes and left. I had R150 with me."
Russell tried to record his number plate but he drove off quickly. "He did not even have his name badge on his shirt."
A shocked Russell then went to the Umbilo police station and was told to go to Durban Central Police Station.
"I reported the incident and a charge of theft was opened. The next time I am flagged down by a police officer I will think twice about stopping. But I was told by officers, while reporting the case, that the law requires me to obey the request of an officer and stop. They did say I had a right to ask for identification and the name and badge number of the officer."
Police spokesperson Gugu Sabela said this was an unfortunate incident and would be investigated.
People testing for learner's and driver's licences in Durban can expect even longer queues and more inconvenience as a result of a new ruling that they have to make use of testing centres closest to where they live.
Many aspirant drivers, frustrated with the endless backlogs and poor service offered by local testing centres, have taken their tests at centres as far afield as the province's Midlands. But authorities are putting a stop to this shortcut. Proof of residence will now be essential when booking for tests.
The new rule, which was recently implemented by the KwaZulu-Natal Transport Department, has already affected many people and outraged driving school owners.
On Thursday, scores of angry driving instructors gathered at the Rossburgh testing ground to petition against the changes and to discuss issues which they claim are part of an attempt by the department to put them out of business. The instructors said that as stakeholders they should be involved in the decision-making processes.
|'What will happen to those people who live in informal settlements'|
The chairman of the Ubhumbano Driving School Association, Sydney Mabanga, said that their businesses had been seriously affected by the changes.
"What angers us most is that the driving schools are not informed about these rules and our clients then blame us for the inconveniences caused by the officials.
"People were not informed in time about the domicile rule, they only learned about it when they arrived at the testing centre and were turned away. The issue of proof of residence has not been properly explained to the public. What will happen to those people who live in informal settlements who do not have residential addresses?" he said.
The Daily News spoke to several learner drivers who said that they were unhappy about the new rule.
Tiffany Naidu said: "This is nonsense. It's unfair because some testing grounds have cameras and some don't. If they want people to go to testing grounds in their own areas, then they must make all testing grounds the same," she said.
"The department is trying to fight corruption, but sending people to other centres where the computerised system has not been installed is pointless. Those who have been involved in corruption will move and begin operating at those testing centres," said Mandlenkosi Gumede.
Transport Department spokesperson Mawande Jubasi said that the decision to implement the domicile rule was taken to curb the influx of people making bookings at a few testing centres.
"People were flooding the same testing centres and were not utilising the other centres. The intention was not to inconvenience people, but to ease the congestion at certain testing centres," he said.
Driving instructors also complained that medical certificates produced by their clients were often refused by licensing officials.
"We don't understand how the officials at Rossburgh can question the authenticity of our clients' certificates as they are not medical officers.
"Our clients are also not reimbursed, even when they bring medical certificates," said Mabanga.
He said there were many issues that needed to be resolved with the transport department.
"We are not taken seriously. When we raise our concerns, which are not only affecting us but also our clients, we are ignored. As important stakeholders in this business we should in fact have a working relationship with the department. However, changes and rules are implemented without consultation," he said.
Jubasi responded that the computerised system would also be implemented at other centres: "Once we have completed the pilot study at Rossburgh, our intention is to roll it out to other testing centres around the province." He added that two mobile testing stations would soon be travelling to rural areas where people could write their tests.