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Speeding husband off the hook

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The 70-year-old Heideveld man who was arrested for speeding as he rushed to say goodbye to his dying wife has been cleared of all criminal charges.

Arnold Tembo is still traumatised. Picture: Monique Duval

The 70-year-old Heideveld man who was arrested for speeding as he rushed to say goodbye to his dying wife has been cleared of all criminal charges after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) declined to prosecute him.

Arnold Tembo sighed a breath of relief after hearing the news on Tuesday as he buried his wife Joan, 74.

The elderly man was left traumatised by City of Cape Town traffic cops who arrested him last Wednesday as he rushed to Lentegeur Hospital after receiving an urgent phone call from doctors saying his wife was dying.

The couple had been diagnosed with Covid-19 but Joan later suffered from water in her lungs and due to restrictions at hospitals the couple was separated for four weeks.

Joan Tembo. Picture supplied

Arnold was busted on Jakes Gerwel Drive and says despite trying to explain to cops why he was speeding they refused to verify his story and instead locked him up while his wife died alone in hospital.

The arrest sparked an uproar amid Saps officers at Manenberg Police Station who questioned why traffic cops needed to handcuff the elderly man.

“It was horrible, he cried in the cells and they were unnecessary. They could have taken him to the hospital if they thought he was lying or give him a fine but they don’t even arrest the taxi drivers. It was just inhumane,” says an officer who asked not to be named.

At the time Traffic Services spokesperson, Maxine Bezuidenhout, said the oupa was travelling at “an extremely high speed” and jumped a red robot without slowing down.

“On Govan Mbeki Road, on the bridge, he overtook motor vehicles on the right, almost crashing into two oncoming vehicles,” she said.

NPA spokesperson, Eric Ntabazalila confirms the decision by the senior prosecutor not to prosecute and says: “The state declined to prosecute on humanitarian grounds”.

Speaking to the Daily Voice after laying his wife to rest at Klip Road cemetery yesterday, Arnold says he’s not done with the traffic cops.

“I will be lodging a complaint about their conduct because this is not about me, how many other people they have done this to?

“I am still traumatised because I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.

“Even though the case is now done this is something I must live with for the rest of my life.”

Bezuidenhout said yesterday they were not aware that the charges have been dropped.

“As indicated before, while the City empathises with the individual’s circumstance, it does not give anyone the right to endanger the lives of other road users.

“That said, the City respects the decision made by the NPA.”

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