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Cape Town - An urgent investigation has been launched into a Ferrari-driving Cape Town businessman who was arrested for drunk driving for the second time this month – but who pleaded with police that he was ill.
The saga began on December 24, when the businessman hit a speed trap in the Southern Cape at more than 140km/h in a 90km/h zone.
An impeccable source told the Cape Argus that traffic officers had given chase – from the Riversdale area in the direction of Mossel Bay – but had not been able to catch the Ferrari.
However, it appears the driver was snared as he re-entered Riversdale at around 2.30pm.
SAPS spokeswoman Bernadine Steyn said: “A request was received from the municipal traffic department to stop a vehicle that was travelling towards Riversdale. SAPS members stopped the vehicle, after which the driver was arrested for driving under the influence.”
The Cape Argus understands blood was then drawn from the driver.
Steyn said the driver spent Christmas Eve in the police station’s holding cells. She confirmed five similar charges had been found against the driver on the police’s records, but that three of these had been withdrawn.
The fifth charge involved alleged drunk driving in the East London suburb of Cambridge, and the case number indicated that this arrest was made in December.
Steyn said that on Christmas Day the driver “became very ill and was taken to a hospital for observation”.
“It was brought to our attention that the suspect has an illness,” she said.
After 25 hours in custody, the businessman was released on bail of R5 000. This bail was granted on the instructions of the Riversdale station commander, and the driver was not required to appear in court. This is within the police’s powers. The court date which has been set is more than a year away – January 22, 2014.
The sequence of events has prompted Transport MEC Robin Carlisle to request Community Safety MEC Dan Plato to ask questions of provincial police commissioner Arno Lamoer.
These include a request about the charges laid against the driver, the status of other open dockets against the driver, and why a return court date of over a year away had been set.
Furthermore, Carlisle has asked that the following be investigated:
* Was the driver charged for not displaying number plates?
* Was a possible charge of reckless and negligent driving investigated?. Was the driver prohibited in any way from driving, as a condition of bail, considering he was arrested for alleged drunk driving earlier this month, and the police’s knowledge of this?
* Did the police officer confer with a magistrate before granting bail?
Police claimed on Sunday that they may not name the driver, as he was granted bail by police in Riversdale, and not in a Magistrate’s Court.
However, he is named in the letter from Plato to Lamoer as a “Mr Mahlathi”, but by at least two other sources as “Lonwabo Mahlati”.
Plato has requested a response from Lamoer by Thursday.