Taxi driver racks up R4500 in fines

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Metro police spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar with the illegible driving licence. Photo: Etienne Rothbart

IVERS LI ENC

That was all that the Johannesburg Metro Police Department officer could read on the driving licence of the taxi driver he pulled over on Monday morning.

The “licence” was so old that no name, date of issue or ID number could be read from the document.

At the time, the driver had a full load of passengers, which he was transporting from Turffontein to central Johannesburg.

When the metro police officer inspected the taxi, he found it wasn’t roadworthy. Among the problems he discovered were that the handbrake and speedometer didn’t work.

The licence disc on the windscreen had expired on 31 August 2008.

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The speedometer was stuck on 160kmh. Photo: Etienne Rothbart.

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The driver tried to bribe the officer into overlooking his invalid licence and unroadworthy vehicle.

JMPD spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said this was a particularly bad case, although in general there had been an improvement in the roadworthiness of taxis that the metro police had pulled over in the past year.

“The driver has been driving for five years with an invalid licence. This is a big risk to the passengers he has been transporting. Their lives have been at risk,” he added.

Minnaar said the driver was fined for not having a driving licence, for the expired vehicle licence disc, for obstructing the traffic flow and for not having a professional driving permit.

The fines totalled R4500.

Minnaar said taxis in this level of disrepair and that did not have valid discs were often confined by their owners to driving in informal settlements. The lack of street names and house numbers in those areas meant it was harder for the JMPD to work there, and non-compliant vehicles went undetected.

The driver was probably taking a chance by driving into the city.

“He probably thought officers are sleeping or on holiday,” Minnaar said.

He said the taxi’s owner - who was not the driver - had been contacted, and it would be his responsibility to roadworthy the vehicle.

The taxi would be handed back to the owner by traffic officials but the owner would be unable to register other vehicles or renew his own driving licence until he had paid all his fines. - The Star


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