South Africa’s TikTok speed-cop

Polokwane traffic officer Stephan Esterhuizen has amassed a following of over 87,000 subscribers after launching a TikTok account last year where he makes jokes and answers people’s questions about South Africa’s road laws.

Going by the callsign Victor 25, or “Oom Spietkop” (Uncle Speed-cop), Esterhuizen began by making reaction videos — called a “stitch” on TikTok — to answer questions he saw people asking on the platform.

Speaking to Rapport, Esterhuizen said he was introduced to the short video platform by his daughters, who sent him clips to watch via WhatsApp.

“That’s how it all started. I answered one person’s question, and then it had this snowball effect,” he told the Afrikaans-language newspaper.

With over 23 years of experience, Esterhuizen is a veritable encyclopaedia of knowledge about South African road rules.

However, he’s not shy to admit when he doesn’t know an answer or got something wrong.

“Sometimes, the guys who work on the road don’t get all the amendments. TikTok has helped me with that because now I go and look on the department’s website,” said Esterhuizen.

“If I don’t know and answer, then I go and look for it.”

For example, one Gauteng motorist was confused when he was cited for his number plate, even though it was registered correctly and displayed.

After researching it, Esterhuizen found that it has not been legal to have a perspex numberplate in Gauteng since 1 January 2014.

“You know, it was in 2014. That’s more than six years ago, and I didn’t even know it,” he said.

The fact that so few people know about new laws encourages Esterhuizen to make his videos.

“I don’t see it as my duty, but as a service that I give on TikTok,” he said.

In a more recent video, Esterhuizen responds to a question from a viewer who asked if it was true that traffic officers can stop anyone without reason in South Africa.

“Yes, a traffic officer may stop any vehicle driving on the public road to check if that vehicle is roadworthy and to check if the person driving it has got a valid driver’s licence,” he said.

Esterhuizen said that he finds his work satisfying and even fulfilling, but the negative image of traffic officers is disheartening.

“It hurts me as a regular officer because people’s tendency and perception out there is that all traffic officers are corrupt,” he said.

“And if you aren’t, then people get belligerent. They can get crude, it can get racist… all that. That’s the thing that is sometimes the worst for me.”

Esterhuizen said that there are many traffic officers in South Africa that just do their work and believe it is to keep people safe on the road.

Now read: How long it could really take to clear South Africa’s licence backlog

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South Africa’s TikTok speed-cop