Incident of motorist who deliberately rammed over 3 traffic police officers triggers hot debate on social media

The car in question that was used to seriously injure the traffic police officers

* People censure those that insinuate the police officers must have provoked the driver

* Majority plead for the driver to be given stiff punishment as they commiserate with the officers as just doing their job

* The 3 traffic police officers were rushed to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre

By Duncan Mlanjira

People have taken to social media to censure others that insinuate that the traffic police officers who stopped and fined a motorist for over-speeding must have provoked him to an extent of ramming the car he was driving on those that manned the speed trap cameras.

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The majority of the social media commentators plead that justice should prevail for the driver to be given stiff court punishment as they commiserate with the officers, who were just doing their job.

On Monday, the NationOline quoted an one eye witness named James Muka as saying the motorist was stopped at Bestobel along Masauko Chipembere Highway and was fined for exceeding the speed limit and allegedly a misunderstanding ensued.

It is reported that the motorist pleaded with the officers that he had inadequate funds to pay and this compelled the traffic officers to confiscate his driver’s licence, which “did not please the motorist” as explained by Muka.

“He warned that he would hit them,” Muka is quoted as saying. “About four minutes later, the motorist drove his car at a high speed towards the police camera and hit the officers, as well as the gadgets.”

The incident was confirmed by South West Police Region headquarters spokesperson, Ramsey Mushani.

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The post by NationOline was shared on Facebook by renowned social issues commentator, Onjezani Kenani and was seen by Dr. Kizito Kanyoma, who — upon looking at the picture of the car — realised that it was his own car which he had left in custody of a garage for maintenance.

Kanyoma in-boxed Kenani to explain that he first saw the post on his wall and then on several WhatsApp forums, saying: “To me, it was just one of the many unfortunate events happening on our roads [but] a couple of hours later, a colleague sent me pictures of the vehicle in question.

“That’s when I realised it was actually my own vehicle! Long story short — I left my vehicle with a local garage on Monday morning and used my wife’s car to get to work (notwithstanding the public holiday).

“Apparently,  the garage owner gave the vehicle to his brother. The rest of the details I’ve had to learn from the social media.

“My heart is with the affected police officers and the entire Police Service. Nobody should be threatened for doing their job!

“Meanwhile, I’ve seen a picture and details of my driver’s license circulating with all sorts of comments and insults. Some crowning the driver as a hero!

“I would like to disassociate myself from this uncivilized behaviour. It is against my conscience and character. Apart from being a victim of a kind, I have nothing to do with this unfortunate incident. I do not personally know the driver in question.

“I also hope that we can all be responsible before making wild allegations. Otherwise, we risk victimising innocent people, which makes us no different from the driver in question.”

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This triggered an avalanche of responses, with Alicy Khonje advising the public to never “trust a mechanic” because they get excited and start using it for their various errands.

“It’s better to clear up your schedule and be there when they are fixing your car,” she said, while Eugene Kumvenji hoped that Dr. Kanyoma would not be punished for the sins of this reckless driver.

Fratella Patrick Tembo expressed his disdain when other people seemed to defend the driver, who were alleging that the cops must have provoked him: “I couldn’t believe this coming from someone I know”.

Trending as Kelvin Highly Favoured, he was so incredulous that someone could get so infuriated like this driver did “to drive somebody else’s car without consent of the owner regardless the fact that it was at a garage.

“That guy has to sort out 4 crimes — over-speeding; hitting officers; damaging police cameras and damaging the vehicle.

“I want to second the idea that spot fines must stop. The Road Traffic Directorate gives us 21 days to pay — why do the police insist on cash? It’s not always that drivers have cash when driving.

“Again drivers should exercise patience with officers whilst on duty — this guy overreacted.”

But Thandie wa Pulimuheya was in favour of the spot fines “until people’s behaviours  on the roads change”, adding that the traffic police just “want a better driving environment but [motorists] resist change at every corner”.

“How do they think the rest of the world operate their mobility systems? Just letting such chaos rule? We all follow these same rules they are throwing tantrums about and the world doesn’t end for it.

“But people want to continue drinking and driving; don’t want the police to stop them for violating traffic rules; want to continue speeding in unfit cars — it’s insane!”

David Mtilatila agreed with Wa Pulimuheya, saying “spot fines punish the driver correctly and not the vehicle owner”, adding: “I once had to pay for reckless driving fine at RTD before my COF was processed because a relative I lent the vehicle to committed that crime and didn’t stop when the RTD were stopping him, so they just recorded the registration number.”

Mada Uladi was also for spot fines to stop — citing an example when he was stopped and was made to pay a fine for forgetting to carry with him his driver’s license. He added that the traffic officer didn’t have a receipt book and insisted that they should drive to his station some 20km away to pay the fine travel beck to the spot to proceed with his journey.

Kelvin Highly Favoured returned to emphasize that the traffic police should follow what their counterparts at Road Traffic Directorate do — that “if the driver doesn’t comply, then he is not worth a driver and has to be deleted in their system and also jailed for the crime committed”.

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Looking at what the said driver did, Emmanuel Chilonga Mwale was of the opinion that indeed he deserved to have been stopped because  “he was capable of hurting anyone on the road,” while “wishing a quick recovery to  the officers and I hope justice will prevail”.

Godfrey Msowoya summed it up by suggesting that the name and owner of the garage should be exposed as allowing his colleague to use the car put the lives of the officers at risk and put the owner of the car in disrepute when his driver’s licence circulated on social media like he was the culprit.

Oscar Mmanjamwada encouraged the owner of the car to sue the garage “for abusing a property left in his custody” while chided social media commentators for jumping to conclusion to condemn the owner of the car, saying the public needs to start being responsible because one can have a car but that does not necessarily mean they drive it all the time.

Bryan Muso pushed the suspicion of the circulation of the driver’s licence on the Road Traffic Directorate, hinting that an officer there might have used the vehicle’s licence plates to check on Malawi Traffic Information System (MalTIS) and took its screen shot and started circulating it.