Numerous people often commute through the City of Windhoek by car and while doing so any one of them could occasionally run into a traffic officer. Some motorists find it annoying to think about getting stopped by police officers while others find it nerve-wrecking. When faced with such a situation, understanding the powers, duties, and functions of a traffic officer can be helpful. The powers, duties and functions of a traffic officer are clearly stipulated in Section 14 of the Road Traffic and Transport Act, 1999 (Act 22 of 1999), and are as follows:
A traffic officer wearing a uniform has the power to stop any vehicle on a public road at any time.
A traffic officer has the power to demand for documentation from any driver of a vehicle on a public road, in terms of road traffic and transport legislation, and such document/s may be seized if they are defective or fraudulent;
Such documents include:
a learner’s and/or driving licence;
a professional authorisation;
a vehicle licence disc;
an operator card (where required); and
registration certificate (blue paper)
A traffic officer may examine or test a vehicle to determine whether it is complying with the provisions of the Act, and if the driver refuses to comply, an officer may arrest him/her.
A traffic officer has the power to drive a vehicle they are examining for the purpose of executing their duties, as long as they are licensed to drive that vehicle.
A traffic officer has the power to remove a license disc from the vehicle and issue a notice to suspend use of a vehicle if it is suspected of being unroadworthy
A traffic officer has the power to impound any vehicle if it is suspected to have been used in the commission of crime.
A traffic officer has the power to prohibit anyone from driving if in their opinion that person is not fit to drive.
Traffic officers have the power to demand for information if they believe an offence has been committed, and have the power to arrest anyone who provide them with false information.
A traffic officer has the power to perform an alcohol test on any driver of any vehicle on a public road, or anyone found in the driver’s seat while the engine is running.
A traffic officer has the power to direct traffic, regulate, and take any other actions they deem necessary to ensure the action is carried out safely.
Moreover, there is more to the job of a traffic officer, which is mainly to ensure the safety of all road users, and this enormous duty shouldn’t be taken lightly. Everyone involved must work together. Therefore, next time you are stopped by a traffic officer, remember what their powers entail and please help make their job easier by complying with their lawful instruction.
The Windhoek City Police can be reached on 061 302302/2902239 or SMS to 4444.