Friday, May 11, 2012

Lasar Trap

And you thought the Calgary Police officers were!
I took my car (Toyota Hilux is called a car here) to Toyota for service yesterday morning.  The Zone Leaders had to pick me up so I could get home.  On the way back, Elder Dowse got pulled over for speeding.  The officer writing the fines ($5,000 kwacha) did not know how fast we were going, only that we were there, so we were speeding.  (5000 mk was 29 U.S. dollars until last Monday and then the kwacha was devalued by 60%.  Now it is $18.)  We went over to where the Lasar operator was working and he pulled up the picture of our car on his lasar.  Elder Dowse was going 65 kph in a 60 zone!!!!!  The guy that got pulled over, as we were watching, was going 63!!!!!!!!!!!!  He said the stop people for going 61!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Can you believe that??????  
I told them (there was 3-4) that I had been a police officer for 27 years and never wrote a ticket for such minimal speeds.  I asked if this young missionary could get a break, and was flatly turned down.  In these African countries, you have to pay the fine on the spot.  I asked them what we process was to contest the fine?  He said they seize the vehicle and you set a court date.  I got a little stern with him, and he asked me if I was the driver.  When I told him I was not, he said we only talk to the driver.  Elder Dowse (bless his speeding heart) said he was the driver, and President Bullock speaks for me, but the guy would not budge.  He sent us over to talk to the guy we first talked to. 
I again explained that this young man is a missionary and he had no extra money.  He asked me how fast we were going and when I told him 65, he said that was 5 over.  If it had been 2 kph over he could have done something.  I told him we wanted to go to court, but could not have the car confiscated.   He called another officer (who had to sit in the front seat next to the driver, according to their laws) to take us over to the police station to make a statement and then to go to the prosecutor's office to set a court date, maybe for that day. 
When we got to the police station, we were directed into a small room, with 4-5 police officers and three empty seats.  We all sat down and started chatting.  Of course, the topic turned to me being a police officer and having written thousands of tickets and never writting a ticket for such a minor speed, I had lots of training in using the lasar, I told them we wanted to contest this in court.  I told them every lasar had an error factor, every speedometer was not exact, and people cannot watch the speedometer exclusively as they are driving; compound that with going down hill, and it is difficult to imagine giving someone a ticket for 5 kph over.  The officers started talking in Chichewa, but I could pick out "court" and 5 Kilometers", so I figured they were not to interested in going to court with someone who would have some knowledge about the situation.  So, I added that this young man was a missoinary, and did not have any extra money to pay fines.  When I said that, they officer in charge asked why I did not say he was a missionary before...they could just warn him this time to not over speed again.  I told them that would be great and thank you for your kindness.  We all shook hands and they let us go.  I think that is the first time we have been able to talk ourselves out of a ticket, and it wasn't even mine.
No more complaining over a ticket for 20 over, all you guys and gals!
Happy motoring....
Jim and Nancy

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Thank you so much for keeping us up on what is happening with you and the mission! I can't believe that they would give ut tickets for such a minimal difference in speed! I guess you'd almost have to try to drive 5 kph under the speed to avoid tickets.
How sad that the one branch is functioning so poorly. I guess when life is difficult evry day of one's existence it might prove to be a struggle to stay faithful, but it shouldn't be that way. The gospel helps so much to put life into proper perspective.
Are you feeling safe in your new place? Where did the ZLs end up?

Have a wonderful week!