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Pretoria - Bite your tongue and refrain from road rage. This was once again the message from the high court in Pretoria, which turned down the appeal of a man who swore at a fellow motorist and grabbed him by the collar, simply because he had accidentally driven against traffic in a one-way road in a parking lot.

Marthinus Olckers of Secunda was in September 2015 found guilty in the local magistrate’s court of assault and crimen injuria and slapped with a R4500 fine, or three months’ imprisonment following his conduct.

Olckers turned to the high court to appeal against his punishment, and stated he simply asked the driver of the other vehicle whether he had a driving licence.

He said he was in his car on the day of the incident, which was parked at a mall in Secunda, with his wife and child. He noticed a car driving against the road markings and politely asked the driver whether he had a licence to drive his car.

According to him, the other driver was arrogant and asked him whether he was “playing”.

Olckers said although he was angry, he simply got back into his car and drove off.

The other driver, however, said he was in the vicinity of Olcker’s parked vehicle, when out of the corner of his eye he saw the man gesturing and waving at him. He stopped his car but moved on again, until he saw the man was speaking to him.

He stopped his car to hear what the man was saying.

Acting Judge Anthony Millar said up to that point the incident was unremarkable and something that happened daily whenever there were drivers in parking lots.

But the next moment, Olckers walked up to the car of the other driver to complain about his driving and asked him whether he had a licence. The other driver admitted that he asked Olckers whether he was playing, as no accident had occurred and it was an honest mistake driving against the road markings.

The next moment, Olckers put his hands through the window and tried to throttle the other driver while swearing at him. The driver managed to break the hold of Olckers, who then went back to his car and drove off.

The judge remarked that there were two mutually destructive versions here. “One is the truth and the other not. The question is whether the version of the appellant is reasonably true under the circumstances.”

He said the two people did not know each other before the incident and there was no reason for any acrimony between them. It was also true that Olckers was the one who got out of his car and went to confront the other motorist, the judge said.

He commented that Olckers told the court that the other motorist at the time blocked his way and prevented him from driving out of his parking bay. Olcker’s damning words to the court - “and I did at the time realise that something is going to happen” - was the final nail in his coffin.

The judge said this clearly illustrated his frame of mind at the time.

“The version of the appellant that he simply went to ask the complainant if he had a driving licence is, under the circumstances not only improbable, but also fails beyond reasonable doubt,” the judge said.

He concluded that the victim’s version was more probable.

Pretoria News