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By unknown | Mar 13, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Redi Direko

Metro cops in Johannesburg have had it with us. From now on we will not even get the option of a fine, but be marched straight to jail for breaking the rules of the road.

Our portly KFC-munchers have come out from behind trees and shrubs to enforce their no-nonsense Operation Nomakanjani. Intransigent taxi drivers are also feeling the full might of the law.

We must support our cops but something tells me it is a PR exercise, and in a few weeks the dust would have settled and everyone can return to displaying contempt for the rules of the road and get away with it.

Barely 24 hours after Operation Nomakanjani began, eight of the 27 arrested taxi drivers had escaped.

Forgive me if I think the number of arrests is far lower and that of escapees much higher. Just stay with me and you will understand what I mean.

It all centres on Wayne Minnaar, the Johannesburg metro spokesperson. The affable, pleasant Minnaar makes me feel good about my incompetence at working with numbers.

In one interview that I conducted with him a few years ago on the "success" of a roadblock conducted on a busy stretch of road in Johannesburg, Minnaar, without pausing to take a breath, told me that 20 cars were impounded and all 30 drivers are behind bars. Huh?

It did not end there. On a live television show we asked viewers a poll question: "Do you think metro cops are winning the fight against negligent driving?" Eleven percent of the respondents said yes and 89 percent said no.

I turned to get a reaction from my guest, Minnaar, who proudly insisted that this outcome showed the level of trust enjoyed by the metro cops - not his exact words but something along those lines.

I did not burst out laughing as I should have but because of my own weakness with numbers, I gave him a second chance and repeated the outcome of the poll so he would reconsider his statement.

But no, the resolute metro cop remained unwaveringly proud of the outcome and stuck to his "interesting" interpretation of the stats.

These two incidents led me to believe Mr Minnaar has a different talent.

He may not be able to interpret stats correctly but he is good at making up numbers. I am serious.

I put my theory to the test by asking him a completely stupid question a few months later on the radio. Speaking to him from the scene of a roadblock, he reported on the number of cars stopped and arrests made.

I then naughtily asked him how many of those cars were red and, strue's bob, he honestly answered the question by telling me that there were a number of red cars, some were purple and most were black.

Now come on, there is no way that cops conducting a roadblock at night would pay attention to this inane detail, surely!

Just when I thought it could not get worse, Minnaar sent a press release in 2006. I remember it because I printed it and took it home so I could prove to my loved ones that I wasn't making up any of the above.

The press release was sent in April and was giving feedback on a successful roadblock conducted on a future date in July. So, in other words, the roadblock was successful before it even happened! Pure magic.

Didn't Minnaar tell prospective drivers in Johannesburg that they will all, and I mean all, get a call from his department to reschedule their driver's test dates following the disruption caused by the recent strike?

In fairness, some of them did indeed get calls but I bet you if I were to ask Minnaar how many, without hesitation, his answer would be something like this, "of the 200000 applicants, we phoned 80percent, therefore the number of those called is 350000 and only 90percent, meaning two people, are still awaiting a call".

Watch this space.


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