Drivers in KwaZulu-Natal are increasingly using roadblock alert systems on social networking sites to avoid being caught for offences during the festive season.
Durban residents have been sending daily tweets on Twitter page PigSpotter KZN about accidents, traffic and roadblocks since the beginning of December.
But traffic officers said they were disgusted by the actions which were defeating the work they were doing to try to save lives.
The local page was created as a copycat of the PigSpotter Twitter page which was started by Johannesburg resident Clint and has 33 000 followers.
In his tweets, Clint posted information on the location of roadblocks and speed traps in Gauteng and referred to police officers as pigs, bacon and porkers.
After Johannesburg traffic police charged him with crimen injuria and defeating the ends of justice, his tweets have been protected so those who are not his followers cannot access them.
On Tuesday, one of the tweets on PigSpotter KZN read: “Piggy Piggy at Westbrook Circle. Random pull-overs.”
Other twitterers asked for details on roadblocks.
On Facebook, motorists are using the group “Traffic fines, cameras and updates in Durban”, which has more than 7 000 followers, to access information in order to avoid roadblocks. The creator of the group, who is not named on the site, claims on the page that the group’s aim is to prevent corruption by police officers.
“We do not want to be victims of corruption. I have been in the situation where they wanted to arrest me for a mere R400 fine. I was not sent a reminder because they say that if you are stopped and issued with a fine then it serves as a summons.
“These days, it is common practice to issue a R500 fine for not having a warning triangle. This is my argument for posting this information.”
On the page, information on the location of mobile traps, fixed cameras, road-blocks, accidents and traffic in Durban is posted by the administrator and by other Facebook users.
One user said: “You guys are great. Some won’t agree, however I cannot go a day without input from you. Not about the traps but the whereabouts of accidents. Much appreciated.”
There are also similar Facebook groups for Cape Town and Johannesburg, which have 9000 and 33 000 users respectively.
But the Road Traffic Management Corporation’s Ashref Ismail said users of the Facebook and Twitter sites were defeating the work of traffic officers.
“What we have to do is not popular; people have a bad view of traffic officers. But when you look at the number of fatalities on our roads, roadblocks are necessary. These people are defeating the work we are doing to try to save lives.”
Ismail said those who used the sites should think about being socially responsible.
“These sites could be alerting someone who had a bit too much to drink and takes a back road to avoid a roadblock and knocks over a pedestrian. How would these users feel about that?”
Metro police deputy head of operations Titus Malaza concurred and said the use of alerts to avoid roadblocks was “disgusting”.
“These people have time to waste informing others of roadblocks. What if you are informing somebody who avoids the roadblock and then kills somebody? They should be talking about ways to prevent the carnage on our roads.”
Malaza added that despite people using these sites it would be not be that easy to dodge roadblocks.
“We have roving roadblocks and random stop and searches, so even if you miss it at one place, you cannot avoid all of them. The message that should be passed on is if you are drinking, stay at home.”
Meanwhile the national Transport Department’s statistics from December 1 to 27, released on Tuesday, showed that more than 1.3 million vehicles and drivers had been checked and more than 2000 drunk drivers arrested. In KwaZulu-Natal, 904 vehicle licences were suspended, 354 drunk drivers arrested and 53 speedsters arrested. - The Mercury