Local residents are seemingly up in arms at the alleged bad treatment of a young man by traffic police on the morning of Saturday, 3 June. This after he was arrested and incarcerated for what appears to be a standard feature on his vehicle.
Joshua de Vos (26) says it was 07:52, and he and his girlfriend Megan Oosthuizen were just 500 metres away from Sedge Links Golf Course, heading towards his home in Wilderness when an unmarked GTI Traffic Police vehicle came up behind him and turned on its blue flashing lights. He says he pulled over, the unmarked vehicle stopped behind, and an officer got out.
“Approaching my window, the man asked me for my licence, then instructed me to get out of the vehicle, Joshua said, “As we walked around my bakkie – a Nissan NP 200 – the officer pointed to the LED daytime running lights on the front, saying they were illegal.”
Joshua told us he tried to explain that such lights are standard on the Nissan NP200, but the officer would have none of it and went to his vehicle to retrieve the fine print-out machine.
“Even once I had offered proof, I was informed that I was still getting fined,” Joshua said, adding that he became increasingly frustrated, especially when he noticed there were no longer just two officers on the scene as another five or so had arrived. He began recording the conversation and asked the officer if they could go to the nearest police station, but said the answer he received was simply, “If you move your vehicle, we will arrest you.”
“Still holding my licence, the officer asked me for my name and occupation, which I gave him,” Joshua explained “He then asked for my phone number – which I told him I didn’t know as I haven’t memorised it. After asking the same question again and receiving the same answer, the officer leaned into the car and told Megan that he was going to arrest me if I didn’t answer the question correctly the third time.” Joshua says he once again told the officer he did not know his cell number, and the officer placed him under arrest and read him his rights.
“By this time, there were several officers standing around my vehicle,” the young man told us, “It was as if there was some huge situation going on.”
He described how he was then handcuffed behind his back and put into a SAPS vehicle. They followed a female officer driving Joshua’s bakkie to his house.
“She then climbed into the police vehicle with us, and the male officer drove at crazy high speeds to the George Police Station,” Joshua told us, claiming the man had flaunted the rules of the road the entire way – going over 130kph, ignoring stop streets and red traffic lights, and crossing over white lines.
“I had been arrested for standard LED lights,” he observed. “There was surely no need for this policeman to put my life in danger!”
Once in the station, the young Wilderness man was treated, he believes, scornfully by most of the staff on duty. He says he heard one member say, “Ons kap om vir DUI!” (“We’ll get him for Driving Under the Influence!”), but that when he was breathalysed, the reading was 0.0.
Seeing that he was the only ‘perpetrator’ in handcuffs, Joshua said he eventually persuaded the officers to remove them and then, after also removing his laces and anything else he might use as string, the members on duty locked him in a holding cell.
He said that when he asked how long he would be there, his heart dropped when one officer replied, “I don’t want to get your hopes up, but your court case is on Monday – perhaps after that.”
He told us that in the cell, there were two other ‘inmates’ and, convinced that they had likely been charged with something more serious than he had, Joshua says he lay down on a mat close to the shower and away from them, thinking how miserable an entire weekend in the holding cell was going to be.
“Thank goodness, five hours later, my attorney arrived and managed to get me released,” he told us.
On Monday, 5 June, both cases against him – ‘Hindering an officer to fulfil his duties’ (later changed to Resisting arrest) and ‘Failing to furnish information to an officer’, were thrown out of court, but Joshua doesn’t feel it would be morally acceptable for the story to end there.
“I really feel for someone who might not be able to afford legal help,” he reasons “Faced with the same situation, they would be in for a nightmare weekend without having done anything wrong.”
Hence, the young man is planning on taking action to try and prevent this from happening to others in the future and is asking anyone in the area who has had a similar experience to contact him, sending details via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recovering from his ordeal, Joshua is overwhelmed with gratitude to his girlfriend, who witnessed the whole story as it unfolded, and his mother, who moved mountains to get his attorney to the police station timeously.
Having received this information, The EDGE forwarded the allegations to SAPS for comment, and Media Liaison Officer Sergeant Chris Spies sent the following response.“Information available indicates that a 25-year-old man was taken into custody for a traffic-related offense, following an incident along the N2 near Swartvlei on 03 June 2023 at about 08:00 by Provincial Traffic officials. He was expected to make his first court appearance on 05 June 2023, but the matter was not enrolled.”