5 Weeks ago I did this. And lo and behold I discover a Court Summons amongst the trash! Yup - these things are supposed to be delivered to a person resident at the named address, and signed for. It can't just be left in the post box! But, hey, this is South Africa. The laws are mainly to castigate the innocent / or them who might fall foul of the law via minor offenses. Them bastards who deliver the summons, and get paid handsomely for doing so can get away with not following due process. But that's a different discussion, one I intend to take up with whomever is responsible - or via the Citizen - a local daily.
So the summons is for me - to appear in court on the 26 March - for driving a vehicle (registered in my name) at a speed of 105km/h in a 60km/h zone. A serious offense no doubt. Now, I'm not saying I don't go over the speed limit, but I might exceed the limit by 5 - 8 km/h, not 55 km/h!!! Needless to say, it's GMan's car - and in an area where he would have been driving - and in his usual style, flouting the law!
I called on the Public Prosecutor (PP) to see if they couldn't issue a fine? No way she says - we can arrange to limit the fine to R2000, and I would have to explain to the magistrate why I should not have my license suspended for 3 months - New laws - 1st offense = 3 months suspension. 2nd offense = 5 years suspension. 3rd offense = 10 years suspension. Oh, and if you intend to plead guilty, bring cash!!!!
Be at the court by 8.30 am. If you early, come and see me (the PP) and I will make sure your case comes up first. So, this morning I'm up at 5.30am, get done, and get to the courts at 7am. The PP arrives at 7.45. I'm first, we chat, she says I will be called up first. Court sessions start at 9am, or as soon as the magistrate decides to start! WTF?!?!? I go outside and have a smoke - or two.
Eventually, at 9.40, the PP comes through, (accompanied by a colleague, who it turns out, is on duty today) and we enter the court room. By now we are more than 15 people waiting. The magistrate arrives after 10am. Apologies for not sitting in the appropriate chair, but rather on the floor with the rest of us mere mortals, as he does not seem to be able to open the door to the area that he is supposed to be in!!!!
And so the circus starts. And i am not first up. As it pans out, maybe better so, as i quickly learn his manner, and rework my whole response to accommodate him, his arrogant manner, and the fact that I have no intention of coming back for a follow up trial.
I was going to say:-
I don't remember the trip. It could / could not be my car. The photo is not a good one. I may / may not have been aware of the speed limit in the area. I may / may not have been driving. etc, etc, etc.
Turns out he's full of shit. And was not listening to reason / explanation. And if you didn't "comply" he postponed the hearing to a later date, pending further investigation and representation. I figured "Take this one on the chin, get the fuck out of here"!
So I eventually said:-
I am guilty. I make this statement of my own free will. I was aware of the speed limit. I was traveling at the recorded speed. I had no legal reason to be doing so. I was late. I apologies to the court and the state and request leniency.
- Guilty - Fine is R2000.00 or 20 days! Can you afford this?
- Yes I can.
- OK - the bailiff (some dumb fat cop who couldn't keep an eye on his shoes, never mind a dangerous criminal like me who might be planning to escape) will take you downstairs to make payment.
- Now for the second part of the sentence - do you want to make a statement - under oath - regarding a reason why I should not implement the suspension of your driving license for 3 months?
Cross the floor - take up position in the "official" box, do the whole swearing in thing, and tell him that if I can't drive, I can't work - and then basically (Not in so many word) I'm fucked!!
OK, so he didn't suspend the license, problem is I have had my first warning, so if I am ever in a similar position, I get a 5 year suspension!!!!
I go to the bailiff, and we start to leave. It then dawns on me that I have a total sum of R1870 in my wallet! I was planning to stop at a filling station on the way in to draw some cash from an ATM, and forgot. Now I'm fucked. They wont let you leave the building till you pay. They don't take cheques / Credit card / Debit card. Here, cash is king!!! So, call a mate at Absa - not in. Call a colleague who might be at Absa - Not there. Call LuckyL - he's on his way into the city (Thank you!!!!) and will come round with the R150 I need. First he needed to find an ATM, then come through the city, robots and all, and eventually got to the courts. Probably didn't take more than 20 minutes - but I aged a year!!! He gave me the money, the bailiff took me downstairs where I made the payment, and I could leave.
|Can anyone see the number plate here?|
This is what I got! I immediately went back to him, and asked how the hell they could say it was my car? You can't see the number plate? And he came back with this:-
|I have covered part of the number to protect the innocent.|
Any feed back will be appreciated.