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Accident waiting to happen

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Accident waiting to happen

by Aly Verbaan
24 Apr 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

High-Speed drag racing into the early hours of the morning is a regular occurrence along Jan Smuts, Viking and Vanguard Drives, but police say there is nothing they can do about it.

Hundreds of cars participate in the races at Gunner's Circle next to Pinelands and Thornton, sometimes as many as three times a week, but Pinelands police says they simply do not have the manpower to put an end to it.

Inspector Louis Waters said the "sport" was particularly popular on Sunday nights, when more than 800 cars and spectators could gather to participate or to watch.

... just a question of time before someone was killed.

Waters said drag racing in the area was on the increase and sometimes blocked access to major roads and highways. He said the situation was an "accident waiting to happen" and that it was just a question of time before someone was killed.

Pinelands police spokesperson Inspector Leslie Adams said it was thought that a person had already died as a result of the racing nearly two years ago, but that the driver of the car had never been caught.

Adding that the area was "buzzing" with illegal activity of all kinds at night, and that the racing was exacerbating the situation.

But the local police had only two vehicles which could not hope to control gatherings of this size.

When we see the cops coming, we just move to another spot.

People's Post spoke to one of the drag racers, who did not want to be named for fear of inciting the anger of other racers. The source agreed that police were "not much of a deterrent".

"When we see the cops coming, we just move to another spot. We just sms each other the details and meet there."

The man, who lives in Goodwood, said there were many other venues used for drag racing regularly and that the "events" moved from one to the other, depending on police activity.

Mitchell's Plain was "wild", Klipfontein Road in Athlone "popular", Sacs Circle in Bellville South "a good one", while Gunner's Circle was a "solid back-up". He said the races were not gang or drug-related, but admitted that dealers and gangs would "make use of the gatherings". The source agreed that the "sport" was dangerous and said that was its appeal.

"It's about the rush. These people don't want organised racing. They come with their souped-up cars and they want the thrill. It's a mentality."

... dealers and gangs would "make use of the gatherings".

Apparently top-of-the-range Mercedes, BMWs and Mini Coopers clocking speeds of more than 200 km per hour are common occurrences and accidents are simply not reported to the police.

Pinelands councillor, Brian Watkyns, said racing had previously been an issue in Forest Drive in Pinelands, but had appeared to have died down, only to re-emerge a few blocks away at Gunner's Circle. The issue had been added to the sub-council's agenda for last Tuesday's meeting and Metro Police Inspector Herbert Mangale of the Gallow's Hill traffic department was tasked with addressing the issue.

But Metro spokesperson Nowellen Petersen told People's Post that Metro had "no knowledge of such an event taking place."

"Metro Police are already stretched when it comes to resources and monitoring these types of activities is challenging," says Petersen.

Meanwhile, provincial SAPS spokesperson Randall Stoffels said it was not SAPS' responsibility to deal with drag racing, no matter how illegal it was. The issue was the sole responsibility of the Metro Police, said Stoffels.

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