I recently visited the province of Mpumalanga with my Mom. I hadn't been there since I was a child and was naturally very excited about my return to the area. There are so many beautiful places to visit in and around the small towns.
Graskop was one of the towns on our list of places to see. On the first day we went there, we had breakfast at Graskop Pancakes which was great! We then went to a curio shop called The White Lily to which we decided to return again the following day.
On our arrival in town at roughly 9am, we decided to go to Harrie's Pancakes for breakfast. As we approached I noticed that the parking area in front of the shop was completely empty. I slowed, indicated my intention and crossed the road to park. At no time was there any oncoming traffic. As I stopped my vehicle, I sidewalk vendor warned me to turn my vehicle around to face the opposite direction. I've been driving for many years and had a vague inkling of a memory referring to not parking in facing oncoming traffic.
I immediately started to right my mistake but was subsequently prevented from doing so by a police van pulling diagonally across from me and blocking my way. I waited for the "policeman" to approach me, let down my window and apologised, saying that I'd made a mistake and was not immediately aware of it but that I was about to remedy it. I had at no time endangered any other cars as there was no traffic approaching when I crossed the road.
The officer then started to get sarcastic with me and proceeded to tell me that he was going to issue me with a fine. I waited for about 15 minutes while he wrote the fine. He then sauntered caually back to me and asked for my name which he spelt incorrectly on the document. I had told him that I was only there on holiday briefly so knowing full well that I didn't live there, instead of issuing me with a fine, he issued me with an order to appear in court. Graskop is at least a 5 hour drive from where I live. He also gave me a ridiculous admission of guilt fine that I could pay if I wanted to avoid appearing in court. Obviously he knew that I would be greatly inconvenienced by having to come back to Graskop for the court date. I'm guessing he assumed that I would rather pay the ridiculous fine instead.
I believed this entire ugly episode was completely motivated by spite. I therefore went directly to the magistrates office and spoke to the public prosecutor who listened to reason and reduced the admission of guilt "fine" to the minimum which was only a quarter of the original amount.
Please be very careful when driving in and around the Graskop area as I would not be surprised to hear of more such occurances. The irony is that while I sat and waited for my "fine" to be issued, I was watching the Stop street a few metres from where I was parked. Not even one car actually stopped at the Stop street. Instead, every last one of them only slowed slightly and then crossed over. I have to ask the question........why are the police not targeting the people who are breaking the law openly and deliberately? Perhaps the fact that I drive a luxury car motivated the ridiculous amount of the "fine"? Perhaps there were other motivating factors too. All I know is that this experience left a really bad taste in my mouth and very nearly ruined our holiday.
I openly admitted that I was wrong, but, having said that, at the time that I committed the offence I was not aware that what I was doing was wrong and secondly, at no time did I endanger the lives or safety of any people or property, including myself and my Mom. Not knowing that I was doing something wrong doesn't absolve me but the attitude of the police officer was so obviously argumentative and sarcastic and this kind of behaviour was not warranted. The law is very clear but reason and logic must also prevail. Honesty should always be the best policy, except in this instance it only lead to a spiteful reaction.
Please be aware if you're visiting the Graskop area.
This place has the strangest weather. The fog appears out of nowhere. Be very careful when you drive. Switch headlights on and drive very, very carefully. There are a lot of mountain passes in the area. Here you should be extra careful.