Let me start by saying that not for one second do I believe that what I did was right or that I didn’t deserve a fine of sorts. I am just annoyed at how the whole matter was handled…
I was travelling on the N1 towards the Cape Town CBD. I hardly ever use the N1 into town because the N2 is much more accessible to me. However, on this day I used the N1 because I happened to be nearer to it than to the N2 at the time. I assumed that the speed limit was 120 km/h. I knew that closer to town it would decrease, but I was at Marine Drive and I imagined that it was still far out enough. I was in the right-hand lane – traveling at what I thought was the speed limit – and found myself having to drop to a little below 80 km/h because there was someone in the right-hand lane who refused to move over. I could not see who it was because there were a few cars between the lane-hogger and myself. There were quite obviously cars that wanted to pass this slow coach, but he wasn’t budging. Is the first rule of the road not “Keep left, pass right”?
In any case, I needed to get into the CBD in a hurry. (I had to collect my mother and go home for a family emergency. This isn’t even an excuse.) I overtook him on the left and wanted to duck in front of him back into the right-hand lane, but he was now speeding up and closing the gap between him and the car in the middle lane (who, I might add, wasn’t exactly sticking to the 80 km/h limit either), so I overtook the car in the middle lane on his left as well. And I kept to the left lane. I checked my side mirror and I now saw that the car (a white VW Golf GTI) that was holding up traffic in the right-hand lane was now catching up to me. Now I was annoyed because that’s not how people are supposed to drive. So, I flipped him off with my middle finger. I know it wasn’t polite, but the family emergency had placed me under some stress. Then the blue lights and sirens went on and this person who was holding up the traffic turned out to be part of Cape Town’s undercover traffic division known as the Ghost Squad.
He motioned for me to pull over. The first thing the officer brought up was that I flipped him off and that it was disrespectful. Yes, I did. He harped on about this for a while. Obviously I had cheesed him off. Another Ghost Squad car also stopped (the driver was minus hat, official jacket or a name badge, so I had no idea who he was). He had seen the whole thing. He also told me I was disrespectful that such incidents lead to road rage. Correct me if I’m wrong, but what the Ghost Squad officer did by hogging the right-hand lane and not letting anyone pass can also easily lead to road rage, and if he was doing it just to force people behind him to get annoyed and exceed the speed limit. Well, that’s entrapment. And it’s unacceptable.
The second officer who pulled off told the first officer that he should probably arrest me. The reason? The disrespect I showed when I flipped the guy off. Is that even a valid reason? And the guy who pulled me off said “Yes. I think I should”. Only after this did the first officer tell me that the N1 at that point is 80 km/h and not 120 km/h and said that there are lots of signs along the road that show me this fact. I drove that road soon after. From where I joined the N1 until just before you get into the CBD, there is only one speed limit sign. Not lots. And I missed it, obviously. That’s why I thought it was a 120 km/h zone. He hardly let me get a word in sideways to explain my story. He interrupted and said I can put it in a letter to get the fine reduced. He wrote me up for R1000 for driving without consideration. How ironic. Was he not driving without consideration when he hogged the right-hand lane and refused to make way for anyone behind him? Should he then not also be given a fine of R1000? Or is he above the law? I am by no means excusing the fact that I was obviously speeding. I will pay my fine. But surely he was one driving without consideration and not me?