Johannesburg – The two Potchefstroom traffic officers at the centre of an alleged racist video that went viral last week have spoken out about the two white motorists who verbally and physically assaulted them.
Thabiso Mmokwa and his colleague Lizzy Jonas were captured on video pulling over a vehicle with two men inside who allegedly abused the officers before assaulting Mmokwa.
The officers told The Sunday Independent how the unidentified men hurled insults and racial slurs at them for asking one of them for his driver’s licence.
“The driver told me he doesn’t have it (licence) and I therefore said that I had to write out a fine for this offence,” said Jonas.
“That’s when he started swearing at me, throwing racial remarks at me. And that is what caught Thabiso’s attention to come over.”
Jonas said the driver told her she belonged in Ikageng – a township outside Potchefstroom – and added that “they (blacks) voted for the ANC and therefore there are potholes everywhere”.
Mmokwa said when he saw Jonas in distress, he stepped in between her and the motorist while also trying to call for back-up.
“I just stood there and didn’t say anything. The driver of the car spoke Afrikaans but I just kept quiet,” he said.
“The last thing that he said was ‘no one is better than the other’ to which I also agreed and repeated his words.” Mmokwa said that the passenger of the vehicle then attacked him.
The passenger allegedly slapped Mmokwa several times and tipped his hat off his head, while the officer tried to stop him.
The two men then returned to their vehicle and left.
They have yet to be apprehended despite their vehicle’s registration number clearly visible on the video.
However, Tlokwe city council spokesperson William Maphosa said four charges have been laid against them.Their vehicle was traced to the Free State.
“The two suspects were students at the University of North West.
“They both dropped out,” Maphosa said. “Their names are known to the police and therefore, the SAPS are tasked with locating their whereabouts.”
The two men face charges of assault, crimen injuria, hindering law enforcement officers from carrying out their duties, failing to produce a driver’s licence and leaving the scene of a crime.
Joburg Metro police spokesperson Edna Mamonyane said the incident was not an isolated one as traffic officers faced similar cases on a daily basis.
“We only ever hear of how corrupt traffic officers are, about bribery and all these other things, covering everyone with the same blanket, but there is another real pressing issue of abuse that officers receive from motorists,” she said.
“Drivers and passengers tend to provoke the officer on duty. They want the officer to do something wrong so that they can take a video and post it online.”
Over the years, there have been recorded incidents of motorists either belittling or verbally abusing traffic officers.