Limpopo official caught driving drunk

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Johannesburg - A senior official in the Limpopo legislature in Polokwane was arrested during a police blitz on drunk driving early on Sunday.

Polokwane police spokesman Captain Ntobeng Phala confirmed that a 39-year-old woman was arrested for drunk driving, and reckless and negligent driving. He declined to name her.

The Star, however, understands that her name is Salome Mokgaphane, a manager of human capital investment attached to Premier Stanley Mathabatha’s office. She was still in the police holding cells ahead of her court appearance in the local magistrate’s court on Monday.

Phala said the suspect was caught while driving along Landros Mare Street in the CBD, en route to the nearby Seshego township, when the police pounced.

“It is alleged that the official’s car was stopped by the police when it was spotted driving while facing oncoming traffic along the same street. It is further alleged that on being stopped, the woman was unco-operative and told the police that she saw nothing wrong in driving while facing oncoming traffic.

“She allegedly threatened to strip the police of their uniform by making a phone call, saying she was the PA of the Limpopo premier.”

According to the police, the suspect initially claimed to be the Speaker of the Limpopo legislature, Merriam Ramadwa, but changed her tune when questioned by the arresting officers, before saying she was Mathabatha’s PA (personal assistant).

Phala said the suspect was with two other women.

“It was discovered during the conversation that the women were under the influence of alcohol and the driver was in police holding cells.”

He said the police conducted the necessary tests to ascertain the allegation of drunk driving within the stipulated time as required by law.

Phala maintained that their duty was to uphold the law irrespective of any person’s social standing or status in the community.

“Drunken driving is a main cause of death on our roads on a daily basis. We will not desist in terms of policing our roads at all times, including the early hours of the morning, to make sure that reckless and/or negligent drivers are removed in order to save our law-abiding citizens’ lives,” Phala said.

Limpopo legislature’s spokesman, Phuti Seloba, confirmed the arrest of one of its officials.

“We believe that we need to work very hard to make sure that we do not have a drunk society. In this case, the law must take its course, but the person must be deemed innocent until proven guilty,” he said.

Mathabatha spoke out last month against the rise of taverns in the proximity of churches and schools, saying they contributed to the increase of crime.

“We can’t afford a society whose pastime is drinking. This often results in women and children abuse and other crimes. This must stop, and stop right now,” he said.

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