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Avengers traffic chaos in Joburg CBD

By: Anna Cox

Johannesburg - Flared tempers, angry confrontations, blaring hooters, gridlocked traffic – day two of Hollywood’s efforts to film a blockbuster in the Joburg CBD is taking its toll.

Metro police direct the drivers on the corner of Sauer and Pritchard in the Joburg CBD. Picture: Matthews Baloyi, The StarA motorist approaches an officer after he is told to use an alternative route. Picture: Matthews Baloyi, The StarA  motorist tries to stop a metro police officer from grabbing his car keys from the ignition. Picture: Matthews Baloyi, The StarThe metro police officer and the motorist push and shove each other. Picture: Matthews Baloyi, The StarA female JMPD officer loudly calls for back-up during the fight between the two men. Picture: Matthews Baloyi, The StarJMPD officers try to stop the motorist from driving away. Picture: Matthews Baloyi, The StarOfficers pull the man out of his car and talk to him in the street. Picture: Matthews Baloyi, The Star

Inner-city traffic has been congested since the shooting of a new Avengers movie started last week.

One motorist, frustrated by blocked roads and traffic diversions, tried to edge his way from a left-hand lane in busy Sauer Street in order to turn right into Pritchard Street shortly after 9am today – only to encounter the wrath of traffic officers battling to maintain order in large-scale chaos.

Tuesday’s incident was captured by Star photographer Matthews Baloyi, who witnessed the action from the rooftop of the building overlooking the busy intersection.

According to Baloyi, the motorist was driving a blue Honda Ballade north along Sauer, with a white BMW on his left. After finding Market and President streets closed to traffic, both cars decided to turn from the two left lanes across the two right lanes into Pritchard Street – cutting off traffic to their right.

Their illegal actions were spotted by two traffic officers manning the intersection who stepped in front of them, blocking their way and instructing them not to turn and rather continue straight.

A passenger in the Honda jumped out and began shouting angrily at the metro police, and then the driver, wearing a blue shirt, got out of his car and approached the officer.

PUSHING AND SHOVING

The two argued and the metro officer appeared to run towards the Honda and to try to take the keys out of the ignition. The angry driver was seen grabbing the officer from behind, and pulled him away from the car. There was some pushing and shoving, and Baloyi heard a nearby female officer loudly calling for back-up over her radio.

The motorist jumped back in to his car and tried to drive off, but the traffic officer jumped on his bonnet and held onto the windscreen wipers in an effort to stop him from fleeing. A third officer tried to grab the keys out of the ignition and eventually the man pulled over to the side of the road. He was surrounded by traffic officers.

Joburg metro police department chief superintendent Wayne Minnaar said he was unaware of any arrests or assaults resulting from the traffic mayhem.

“I know the congestion has been very bad, but I haven’t heard of any serious reports,” he said.

And it’s a situation motorists will have to put up with until Sunday night – when the Hollywood film-makers move on to Yeoville.

Minnaar has appealed to motorists to be patient.”We are doing everything we can – we have officers at the main intersections – but because of the sheer volume of traffic, there are still bound to be long delays,” he said.

Motorists, however, appear to be losing patience, complaining of delays of up to two hours to simply get out of the city during afternoon peak times.

One disgruntled motorist said: “I would like to see what would happen if South Africa tried to shut down New York’s streets for a movie.”

The movie is a sequel called Avengers: Age of Ultron starring Robert Downey jr, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth.

On Wednesday only one lane on Commissioner Street will be open and Joubert Street will be blocked off.

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