Enraged car enthusiast writes open letter to Cape Town

Cape Town car enthusiast fights back with well written open letter

The City of Cape Town recently announced their aim to target illegal car modifications, especially those with unsafe and unapproved drop suspensions.

However, this move from the City of Cape Town has made Capetonian car enthusiasts enraged, especially the harsh treatment given to all modified car owners and car enthusiasts.

One specific car enthusiast from Cape Town, Leatin Booys, says, ‘not all motor lovers deserve to be clamped down with harsh treatment’ and calls for proper clarity on the car modification laws.

He wrote an open letter to the City of Cape Town regarding the recent enhancement of laws:

(the letter is long, but worth the read)

To The City of Cape Town,

A lot of confusion has come up as a result of the statement made by local newspapers regarding the law relating to car modifications. Although the report has been dismissed as inaccurate, it seems there are some traffic officials who have taken it up seriously. I unfortunately, fall into that big bracket of confused people. I would like some clarity from The City of Cape Town in this regard.

I have been doing a lot of reading regarding this and quite a bit of following on social media since this has come up. It appears that what was said by our Premier, Helen Zille, on a local radio station and what happens on the roads is completely different.

I was one of the people that called into the talk show, only to get the same generic response other road users received. I have seen numerous vehicle’s license discs being removed. Just this morning, I witnessed a motorist being pulled over for no reason. The poor chap was probably on his way to work and later I found out that he had his license suspended because his brake lights were not working (a fuse popped in his car – of course he did not know at the time).

According to my knowledge, this should constitute a fine and not a suspension of the vehicle’s license – my question is “why the abuse”? Officers are there for our safety and to guide us regarding the law of the road and to enforce it – not to bully us like this, correct?

It appears numerous officers are taking the law into their own hands since there is such a lot of confusion surrounding this matter. In my discussion with the Premier, I raised that the question of “what classifies as an “illegal modification” to a motor vehicle.” I would still like to know what this is because previously, I too was a victim to this abuse of the law.

“Street racers”, as they are called, have a venue to race – the Killarney race track. Not a single event has passed whereby I did not have to go through a roadblock. It appears those people who actually go to the right place to do the right thing are targeted before even getting there.

Recently, I was personally “caught out” in a roadblock in Plattekloof, heading towards Killarney race track to go and spectate a “street to strip” event. I understood that the officer was doing his job in making me take a breathalyser test – which I did not refuse. However, not a single drop of alcohol was consumed that day. Once all the checks were done, I was told by this specific officer I could proceed.

On pulling away, a next officer, probably 5m further up the road, flags me over again. He mentions to me that the first officer forgot to check something and asked me where I was heading to. My reply was that I was on my way to Killarney race track. He then, very arrogantly shouted to his other colleagues: “Ouens, hier is nog ‘n Killarney ou hier” (guys, here is another Killarney driver).

He then asked me whether I have a lowered suspension. My reply was yes, because I had a proper lowering kit installed by KoeniC, a registered and SABS-approved company in Cape Town, that supplies these kits legally. Of course, I did not have the installation slip on me at that point in time. I did tell the officer that it has been purchased legally and the company itself had it installed for me. His response to me was I should hand over my license disc. On questioning, he told me that my vehicle is not allowed to be dropped… period. This is not the message that was relayed to us car enthusiasts by the Premier on Monday 26 January 2015. (Cape Town Lately says the law does NOT stipulate how much space there needs to be between the wheel and car body).

The sad reality is this – I am a family man and I have a three-year-old daughter. Why should I drive around in constant fear of having my license suspended, knowing that everything in my car has been purchased legally and fitted by accredited fitment centres? Why is it that I am targeted on the roads by traffic officials if I am doing nothing wrong?

Surely, my vehicle cannot be in a poorer condition that most of the taxi’s I see speeding past me on a daily basis. Surely, my vehicle cannot be in a poorer condition than the next person driving a car that is smoking like a chimney. Surely, my vehicle cannot be in a poorer condition that the 4X4 that has a gap too wide between the wheel and car body, which is illegal.

It is a fact that many car enthusiasts take care of their cars, because it is a passion. It’s enough that most of us live behind security gates and burglar bars, now we are in constant fear to even drive with our families to the beach, because we do not know what arrogant “Mr Traffic Cop” will do next.

As I mentioned, I am a family man – when you are at a young age, the thrill and adrenaline of an illegal street race is considered “cool”. Having your car so low that it scrapes against the tar as you drive is considered “cool”. As a career-focussed family man, I honestly have bigger things to worry about than to go out of my way to participate in these illegal activities.

I do not want this letter to be considered as a defence for illegal street racing, because I have seen the dangers associated with this type of behaviour – and I do not condone illegal street racing a single bit. However, I would like to create an awareness to CCT Traffic services that we all cannot be painted with the same brush. I agree fully – once street racers are caught, they need to have the ultimate punishment given to them – but I rest my case on the other hand as well; not all modified cars are street racers.

Sincerley yours,

Legal car enthusiast,
Leatin Booys

What are your thoughts on Booys’s letter?

(Source: Cape Town Lately)