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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

South African Taxi Driver Dead After Road Rage Incident With Tower

Here's The Star story:
By Beauregard Tromp and Sapa A taxi driver is dead and a passenger is in a critical condition after an argument with a tow truck driver ended in bloodshed.

In what witnesses have described as a road rage incident, both the taxi and tow truck were travelling down Barrage Road in Vanderbijlpark when there was an argument over use of the road.

"They stopped and started arguing," said police spokeswoman Constable Thembeka Koaga. The argument involved the taxi driver and some of his passengers on one side and the tow truck driver, his son and a friend on the other.

During the fracas, the tow truck's front window was smashed with a brick, and damage was also caused to the taxi.The argument deteriorated into a fight during which the tow truck driver pulled his firearm and fatally shot the taxi driver, wounding a passenger in the process.

The taxi driver died en route to hospital, and the wounded passenger was in a critical condition in hospital last night, according to ER24.

The tow truck driver has been charged with murder, attempted murder and malicious damage to property.

His son and friend, along with one of the taxi's passengers, have been charged with malicious damage to property and assault, according to Koaga.

Meanwhile, a Joburg metro police officer was arrested for drunk driving after a high-speed car chase that ended in a collision.

"A metro police officer was arrested on Saturday night by the internal affairs unit after he crashed his private car into a parked car on the corner of Main and Ferreira streets in Rosettenville," Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said.

The unit investigates misconduct among metro police officers.

Members of the unit spotted a stationary car at a green traffic light around midnight on Saturday, Minnaar said. They then noticed that the driver was slumped over the wheel.

"When the unit approached the car, the driver woke up and sped away. He attempted to flee from the officers by driving through a number of red lights," Minnaar said.

The chase ended when the fleeing officer crashed his car into another vehicle parked on the side of the road, Minnaar said. The unit's officers then identified the man as a metro police officer.

A breathalyser test showed his blood alcohol volume at 0.6mg per 1 000 ml of breath, three times over the legal limit.

"A disciplinary investigation will follow," Minnaar said.

More than 600 000 vehicles and drivers were stopped and checked across the country from December 1 to December 31 as part of the festive season Arrive Alive Road Safety Campaign, the authorities said at the weekend.

When he launched the campaign on December 6, Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele said no less than a million vehicles and drivers would be stopped and checked in December and early January.

According to preliminary reports, at least 1 050 deaths (276 drivers, 419 passengers and 355 pedestrians) were recorded on South Africa's roads since December 1.

Speed has been reported as a major contributory factor to these crashes, said Transport Department spokesman Logan Maistry.

For the same period during 2008 (December 1 to December 31, 2008), 1 348 deaths were recorded on the country's roads.

Ndebele said: "We urge all South Africans to make road safety part of their New Year resolutions or risk losing their driving licence this year.

"The introduction of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences this year will enhance a culture of compliance through the points demerit system, and those who continue to disregard the law will forfeit their driving licence. Obey the law or pay the price."

Between December 1 and December 31, 2009, more than 285 000 motorists were fined for speeding; 3 487 drunk drivers were arrested; 244 motorists were apprehended for reckless and negligent driving; 2 517 unroadworthy vehicles were removed from the roads, including 1 209 buses and taxis; and thousands of drivers were fined for not wearing their seatbelts and other offences.

Traffic volumes are expected to increase in the next few days as people return home to resume work.

Law enforcement officers would continue to be out in full force to ensure safety on the roads, Maistry said.

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