Criminals are constantly looking for opportunities to target unsuspecting victims. The methods that they use change, and you need to always be on the lookout. A new scam that criminals have been using is erecting fake roadblocks to commit crimes.
A roadblock refers to an obstruction or barricade that is used to divert or block traffic. The purpose of roadblocks is to reduce crime and increase road safety. Roadblocks have been seen as effective as they can prevent reckless and lawless driving from motorists, and police officers can use them to stop non-licensed vehicles and unlicensed drivers.
Two types of roadblocks exist in South Africa. The first type of roadblock is an informal roadblock that is randomly set up on major roadways or the end of off-ranks. In an informal roadblock, the officers can ask for your ID and drivers license to check if you have any outstanding fines and ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy, as well as check to see your vehicle’s license disk. However, a search is not allowed without the police officer having a warrant.
The second type of roadblock is the K78 which is an official roadblock that the police officers establish to search vehicles and, if necessary, a full-body search. At a K78 roadblock, police officers have the right to search your car, even without a warrant. They can also seize illegal items or items that they believe are linked to a crime from a person or vehicle.
When you approach a roadblock, there are certain rights that you have should be aware of, which are:
- Follow the directions given by the traffic officer
The moment you approach a roadblock, you should follow the directions you are given by the traffic officers, which would usually be a signal to pull over. Once you do, you are to take out your ID and driver’s license.
- You are allowed to verify the roadblock
When you approach a roadblock, you have the right to ask for a signed certificate by the Provincial or National Commissioner in order to prove the authenticity of the roadblock.
- Know what you can be arrested for
There are a few instances that you can be arrested for at a roadblock, such as refusing to take a breathalyser test as the police will have to detain you so that your blood can be tested. In general, if your blood alcohol is above 0.05g per 100ml, then you can be arrested for drunk driving. However, you cannot be charged for unpaid fines unless a warrant has been issued against you for the fine. If a warrant has been issued, you are allowed to ask for a copy of the documentation.
- Unroadworthy vehicles can be stopped from driving further
If your vehicle has been deemed unroadworthy by the traffic officers, they can prevent you from driving it further. The reason for this is that it could put you and other road users at risk.
- If your rights are being violated, gather evidence
If a traffic officer violates your rights during a roadblock, then you are to gather evidence that you will need to report the officer to 10111. To report the officer, you need to write down their badge number and the vehicle number.
Safety Tips When Suspecting Illegal Roadblock
Some telltale signs of fake roadblocks include the police officer’s badge that looks fake, the roadblock being set up on an unusual spot during odd hours. Fake police officers also tend to use unmarked cars with fake or covered up number plates.
If you have any doubts about the roadblock’s authenticity before you choose to pull over, there are measures you can take that will not get you in trouble even if the roadblock is genuine and these measures include:
- You can call 10111 and let the operator know that you are unsure about whether the roadblock authentic and you feel unsafe pulling over.
- Secondly, provide the operator with the police vehicle registration number if you can see it to confirm whether the vehicle belongs to a police vehicle.
- If you cannot call 10111 or reach the call centre, you are to start by slowing down and turning on your hazards. You should then open your windows and use your arm to let the police vehicle that you want to be followed. Proceed by driving at 40km/h to the nearest police or petrol station where there are CCTV cameras and people are around.
Criminals are getting more and more creative by the day. For this reason, you should be aware of the ways that you can fall prey to such crimes.
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