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Spot the fine

25 October 2016

The Trans-Kalahari highway is the fastest and most convenient means to travel by road from Gauteng in South Africa to Windhoek in Namibia. The road cuts through the western part of Botswana and 95% of it is in great shape.

From a driver’s perspective, it is one of the most monotonous roads on this side of the equator. The road is mostly straight. To make spotting wildlife easier when driving at night, the flaura on both sides has been cut back about 30 metres.

So, in Botswana, all you see for around 800km is a road and a straight line of trees around 30 metres from the road. At times, it gets so monotonous you almost wish for a donkey in the road so you can at least brake, hoot, swerve or… anything.

I recently drove that road when I travelled alone to the Namib Desert with the latest Renault Duster. Despite the relentless monotony, I was determined not to contribute to the Botswana government’s considerable coffers. So whenever the speed limit indicated 80km/h (which happens a lot in Botswana), I tried to stick to that limit, even though it seemed that, often, these limits only served to protect some bushes and trees from speeding motorists.

Then I reached Kang, in the centre of Botswana. Out of the blue, from under a shady tree, a police officer jumped forth. I was doing 93km/h in the 80km/h zone. This was rather annoying, as I had tried really hard to remember the fact that the Duster’s bigger all-terrain tyres caused the speedometer to show the actual speed, and not to over-read as speedos normally do.

I was guilty as charged though, and did not argue the speed. Frustratingly, I was only 7km/h over the allowed limit – the officer said they give leeway up to 86km/h. He then pointed me to the sergeant, who was sitting at a neat desk with lots of books and papers and pens. Okay, so I’ll get my fine and be off then, right? Er, no.

The fine was 360 pula. That’s about R460. Somewhat steep for 93km/h, I thought.

Slightly frustrated, I impatiently waited as the police sergeant proceeded writing the comprehensive fine. He finished off, and just as I thought it was all done, he reached under the table and brought forth a… card swipe machine? You bet – you have to pay the fine on the spot, with a 3G data connection and all!

Golly, no wonder the Botswana economy is doing so well.

Words and photo: Danie Botha