Super roadblocks on the way from the 4 December 2010

This festive season not only drivers but passengers too are to be checked. And not only the police but a host of other agencies are to man the roadblocks.

Tax dodgers, maintenance evaders, fugitives of any type or anyone transporting illegal and dangerous goods on South African roads, among others, should brace themselves for a hard time, national police commissioner General Bheki Cele has warned.

This was because “multi-disciplinary” roadblocks featuring “highly specialised groups” such as the South African Revenue Service (SARS), Home Affairs and Customs and Excise would be held countrywide from December 4.

Cele said in Parliament on Friday that in implementing new strategies to improve their service to the community, the police would join forces with nine departments, including SARS, Home Affairs and Customs and Excise in the rollout of a roadblock strategy.

Cele warned tax evaders, unlicensed drivers and anyone with anything to hide from Home Affairs or Customs to beware.

Although government officials would not be drawn into details of the plan, the Cape Times learned that it would be officially launched in Gauteng, early next month.

This was confirmed by national police spokesman Vish Naidoo on Tuesday.

The Cape Times has learned that even nature conservation officials would be in the roadblocks, watching out for people transporting endangered species.

Customs and Excise officials would be keeping an eye on illegal transportation of goods while the Home Affairs Department would tackle illegal immigrants and other dodgy travellers.

Reacting to the new strategy on Eye Witness News’s website on Tuesday, Gareth Newham of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria said it was “unusual”.

“The concept is not completely new that there is an increase in roadblocks for the month of December. What is of interest is to target tax dodgers and illegal immigrants,” he said.

Newham said authorised people from the department would have to be at the roadblocks to do the checks but said he was not sure how they would implement the process.

“The passengers of the vehicle would be affected. If they do not have their ID documents, fingerprint identification will be used to identify the person and if there are any outstanding issues.”.

Whether it would be mandatory for the driver to have his fingerprints taken, was another one of Newham’s questions.

He said a flag would be raised if the driver did not want to have their fingerprints checked.

Meanwhile, Transport MEC Robin Carlisle said on Tuesday that he was aware of the planned December roadblocks but had not yet seen the special operations plans.

Carlisle said Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele had in recent months spoken about drawing forces together to ensure the maximum use of roadblocks.

“We will be full partners in (the December roadblocks),” Carlisle said.

The involvement in roadblocks of highly specialised groups like SARS, which had emergency vehicles and officials with powers of arrest, would also help the province in its targeting of people who caused road fatalities, he added.

Carlisle said with about 20 additional vehicles and about 50 law enforcement officials, having SARS in a roadblock was ideal.

He said the roadblocks would include the usual traffic checks for driver’s licences, drunk driving, roadworthiness and overloading.

However, he cautioned: “We have to make sure we don’t go over the top and create congestion at the roadblocks.”

Traffic chief Kenny Africa told the Cape Times the roadblocks would be launched by the police in the Western Cape on December 5. - Cape Times