Johannesburg - Suspicion surrounds the events leading up to the crash that killed two men – including a police officer – and smashed a supercar into three pieces on Thursday.
Police said the driver of an Audi R8, which sells from about R1.5 million, sped off while an officer was searching his car at the corner of Rivonia Road and Grayston Drive – with the officer in the car.
Police claimed a second officer in the police van then chased the supercar for 7km until the Audi lost control and hit a wall, a tree and a lamppost, breaking into three pieces.
Both the driver of the Audi and the officer were killed on impact.
The Audi driver was named by police as Areff Haffejee. Police did not release the name of the policeman who died.
Haffjee’s family could not be reached for comment.
The police have been unable to explain what happened.
Police admitted that the officer was seated in the passenger side of the two-door car, which goes against protocol.
“That will form part of our investigation,” said Gauteng SAPS spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini.
He admitted the officer was in full uniform and had his police-issued handgun on him.
When asked why the officer didn’t use his gun to force the man to pull over, Dlamini said: “I don’t know, I cannot answer for him.”
Dlamini said the officers had found only a small amount of dagga in the car during their search.
Dr Johan Burger, a senior researcher from the Institute for Security Studies, said it did not sound as though the officer had followed police protocol, and that it would be “completely irresponsible” for the officer to be in the car with the driver.
He said the correct procedure would be for one officer to remain in the police van behind, to provide cover for another officer to approach the car carefully and ask the driver to step out of the vehicle. They should “make sure everybody steps out of the vehicle to make sure they are unarmed and do not pose a threat”, he added.
Dlamini said “everything” would be investigated, including the police’s conduct.
“The outcome of the investigation will tell us which way to go,” he added.
The scenario raises suspicion that the officers asked the driver for a bribe and were heading for an ATM or his home.
“I cannot confirm that,” said Dlamini when asked about this.
He couldn’t give an exact time for the events, but thought the Audi had been pulled over in Sandton before 4am.
The Star found CCTV footage from a business on Oxford Road at the intersection with Corlett Drive – which is on the direct route between where the Audi was stopped and the crash site.
This footage is grainy but seems to indicate a black car travelling south along Oxford Road at 4.07am, followed almost immediately by an SAPS van.
The footage is in colour. The police van does not appear to have turned on its flashing blue lights – usually used to indicate an emergency or chase – and the vehicles do not appear to be involved in a high-speed chase. Instead, they seem to be travelling at a similar speed to other vehicles on the route.
Staff at the business – and several others with CCTV cameras along the route – said police had not asked to view the footage.
When asked about the footage, Dlamini said it would be investigated. He asked anyone with information to contact the police.
On Thursday morning, dozens of police officers milled around as forensic investigators combed the scene and onlookers watched from a distance.
The front end of the car rested on the pavement, and the back section was a few metres behind it. The third piece – the driver’s seat and door – rested in the middle of Oxford Road. Next to the driver’s seat was a pool of blood.
The passenger side of the front section was wrapped around a lamppost.
Skid marks stretched from the left side of the road, curving over to the oncoming-traffic side, where the car rested.
A street post on the corner of Oxford Road and Northwold Drive was knocked over and the wall of the Mozambican consulate was damaged.