A large number of motorists travelling on the R511 Hennops road have come forward with stories of intimidation, threats and bribery by metro police officers who threaten to lock them up if they don’t cough up thousands of Rands on the spot. This has been going on for over a year and the culprits are currently still at it.
Mannetjie Geers is the latest Hartbeespoort victim after he had to pay metro officers R3 000 on Sunday in order to let him and his wife go. “Near Hennops Pride, a car on three wheels drove in front of me. One of his tyres had come off and it pulled to the left so I could pass. It was on a white line and just a few metres further metro policemen signalled for me to stop. They told me to get out and hand over my drivers licence. He then told me to stand aside so we can talk without my wife hearing. I was told that he was going to arrest me for reckless and negligent driving, and I will be locked up at the Sunnyside police station. They were very intimidating and then said if I e-wallet R3 000 to a number, they will let me go,” Geers told Kormorant.
“I told them I would have to ask my wife as she does all the banking and he said no, women only make trouble.” The metro officers refused to let them go, threatening arrest and Geers decided to pay the R3 000. “No one wants to sleep in the Sunnyside police holding cells, believe me.” According to Geers, the metro officers showed them how to use the phone application to transfer the money and when they could only transfer R1 000, the metro officers took his drivers licence and told him to drive to Hartbeespoort and withdraw another R2 000 and bring it back if he wanted his licence back. “When I returned, they had pulled off another motorist and he was standing outside his vehicle, talking on the phone.”
More motorists have come forward with stories of their scary encounters with these metro officers. Janine Botha also overtook a slow vehicle in the same area and was stopped by the officers. “They immediately told me they were going to lock me up in the Sunnyside police cells and that I would have to stay there for five days because there was a problem at court. When I said I had to phone someone, one said ‘no, let’s see if we can make another plan’”. They told me if I transfer R3 000 to them, I could go. By this time, I was in a state of panic. I said I could not transfer money. They took my licence and told me to drive back in the Hartbeespoort direction and withdraw the money at an ATM Yet another resident was stopped last weekend and when the metro officers found liquor in his vehicle, he was told that he was not allowed to transport liquor. “I was pulled off and they asked if they could search my car and I agreed. When they found the two bottles of whisky, they said they were going to arrest me and take me to the Sunnyside police cells as I was not allowed to transport liquor,” Pieter Brand told Kormorant. “They were arrogant. I told them the president had announced that we could buy alcohol again and how must we get it home if we cannot transport it. I told them I was phoning my lawyer. They said again that I was going to be arrested and I told them to go ahead and do what they must do, but they must know I will not leave it at that. When they saw that I was not going to let them get away with their sly tricks, they finally let me go.”
Other residents told similar stories, most ending up paying the bribe or losing their licences in the process. “If you are in a situation like that and you fear that you might end up in a police cell, it is difficult to stay level-headed. They are so intimidating that you start fearing for your life,” another woman, who fell prey to these officers said.
Kormorant contacted the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) that indicated that they had not yet received any formal complaints about these officers. “As the department we have zero tolerance on corruption and that is the reason that we have recently announced the cell number of our investigators, which is available 24 hours of the day, in order for members of the public to report such incidents,” said TMPD spokesperson, Supt Isaac Mahamba.
“We will look into complaints and follow up on such incidents. We encourage members of the public to report these incidents and we guarantee that information received will be treated with confidentiality.” Mahamba said that it should be noted that there are only a few members in the department who are guilty of these offences and the department remains committed to deal with them following internal disciplinary processes.
The TMPD said members of the public should ask to see traffic officers’ appointment cards, as by law they must identify themselves. And do not pay bribes.
If you fall victim to dodgy metro police officers, immediately call 083 657 2998, available 24/7, or report it to the nearest police station.