back to article South African police hunt Twittering speedcam spy

Police in Johannesburg are investigating a man who's been using Twitter to warn motorists about speed traps and other police activity. PigSpotter, as he calls himself, has now agreed to stop tweeting the location of road blocks but vowed to continue posting speed trap information. He also posts traffic congestion reports, and …

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  1. irish donkey
    Happy

    undercrackers

    What are undercrackers.......

    .......... ohhhh i say

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      what undercrackers

      Those aren't undercrackers, it's just a bikini. And it's not just some lady it's Danica Patrick, the Anna Kournikova of motor sport.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @PigSpotter

    I hope you use The Onion Router (TOR). ZA might have some competent SIGINT left.

    1. Lionel Baden

      Phone network

      Is probably much better as 1000's of phones share the same IP

      and anyway picking up Sims over there is dead easy !!

      1. Blake St. Claire

        been there lately?

        Obviously not.

        > and anyway picking up Sims over there is dead easy !!

        I recently went to buy a prepaid SIM in Sandton Centre so that I'd have a local, non-roaming service for emergency use. $15/£10 for 100 minutes is both cheap and a no-brainer.

        Vodacom and MTN would not sell to me without showing them my passport, which was in the safe in my hotel room.)

        Virgin sold me a SIM with just my drivers license -- and then they registered the SIM, with my name and other details, with the government.

        1. Lionel Baden
          Thumb Down

          recentley

          No i havnt i tend not to commute on a daily basis :/

          Although my sister who lived there for a few good years just buys them from market stalls when she wants one.

          So probably walking into a Vodacom store wont get you very far. Try getting out the limo on the way to the store .....

          as you said hotel i am presuming you know Fuck all about the country apart from where a good resort, beach and bar is ????

          1. Blake St. Claire
            WTF?

            wow

            Having a bad day, are we?

            I suppose I know fuck all. I did live there, but that was nearly 40 years ago. Things change, it's really not the same place it was the last time I was there. We did shop in market stalls -- didn't see SIM cards, but weren't looking for them, so---

            We stay in hotels because we're not fortunate (read rich) enough to own in the places we travel to. And no, they weren't places like the Sandton Sun or the Mount Nelson.

            FYI we rode the bus (Roadlink SA) from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Something I don't suppose too many whites do; we were the only whites on the bus. We could have flown but didn't. I took a lot of shit from my wife over that. On the other hand I finally got to see some of the Karoo.

            And having ridden the bus, I can say I now know where to get a minibus from downtown to Sandton. Another thing not too many whites are familiar with I suppose.

            Limo? I suppose that's one way to describe a Hyundai Atos or a Honda Civic. Compared to walking or riding in the back of a bakkie I suppose it is.

            I hope tomorrow is a better day for you.

  3. ShaggyDoggy

    UK please

    Can we have one or more of those over here please, possible regionalised.

    1. The Grime
      Badgers

      We have..

      Or rather, most of the world does - its called trapster.com

      Another reason to get a smartphone if you havent already.

  4. andy gibson

    I avoid

    those pesky hidden cameras and subsequent fines and bribes by driving to the limit of the road. Its really not that difficult. If you are having problems give your local driving instructor a call.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      Corrupt?

      Yeah because a a corrupt policeman who would take a bribe would in no way fabricate evidence to make innocent people look guilty would he?

      Smug twat

    2. Blake St. Claire

      Re: I avoid

      Many years ago a brit acquaintance told me that in "democratic" Britain, if the majority of drivers on a road were driving faster than the posted speed limit, that the limit would be reconsidered and possibly raised. Obviously there were common sense limitations to this, e.g. near schools, consideration of safe maximum speed for the road, etc. I guess there's enough other anecdotal evidence that democratic Britain has ceased to exist though.

      I personally find it better to "go with the flow" as driving slower than everyone else can be a just as much a hazard as driving significantly faster than everyone else. That's what I've done both times I've had occasion to drive in the UK.

      I recently did quite a bit of driving in ZA. They use gatso-type cameras, and there is always an extra "camera" sign on the same post with the speed limit sign, and the gatso box is 0.5km or so further down the road. What this means is on the highway, everyone speeds to the speed limit sign, then they slow down until they pass the gatso box, then speed up again. There were a few ad hoc speed "traps" -- they were always in the center divider or median, and in plain sight. If there were hidden traps, I didn't see them; they were obviously well hidden. And perhaps those extra charges on my CC were my speeding fines? They were fairly small by my standards, but they might not be so small for most South Africans. And actually, the speed limit on the major highways is 100km/hr -- faster than most places here, so I didn't feel much need to go a whole lot faster.

      Oh, and FWIW, my record here at home is spotless. Which just means that I haven't been caught. ;-)

    3. Archie Woodnuts

      Re: I avoid

      Your medal is in the post.

      1. mike 32
        Alert

        Some corrections...

        The limit on highways here is 120km/h, in general. That's the speed that trucks and larger, slower vehicles maintain. If you drive a German sedan, then during the holiday season it's not unknown to average 150km/h, while leapfrogging all the slower traffic.

        Also, I've seen traffic cameras hidden behind advertising boards on lampposts, with a hole cut in the board for the lens to pop out, as well as one hidden in a wheelie bin. They're crafty buggers, here...

        PigSpotter is big news here, and I reckon good on him. There's nothing illegal in telling others where traps are. Ethically dubious maybe, but certainly not illegal.

    4. EvilGav 1

      Well done . . .

      . . . you sir are most likely one of the idiots then who causes more problems than anything else.

      The speedomoter in your car will, invariably, be wrong - you drive at the speed limit as it is in your car, which will be different to all the cars around you and will almost certainly be stating a speed above what it's actually doing. You are now a moving road-block.

      It's also not always safe to drive at the posted limit for a road, any good driver knows that, but since you always drive at the posted limit we can easily put you in the box of "crap driver who sticks to the rules, whether they make sense or not".

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        "It's also not always safe to drive at the posted limit for a road"

        I don't know what you need then.

    5. Trevor_Pott Gold badge
      Big Brother

      @Andy Gibson

      That's great for you, mate. Not quite so good in all places. Take for example my home province of Alberta, Canada. He have us here a hiway called the QE2. It's a big long stretch of very flat divided hiway with two lanes going in either direction. The speed limit is 110Kph. The right lane (the slow lane) travels at between 120 and 130kph. The left lane (the fast lane) travels at between 130 and 160kph. If you drive at the limit (110kph) anywhere along that stretch of road, you will get run over.

      By the cops.

      Saskatchewan is worse. Driving to the limit only make sense where the limit hasn’t been set artificially low. When your own law enforcement officers honk at you to get the hell out of the way when you are doing 10kph over the limit as it is, then you are facing a situation where the limit set is inadequate to the usage of the road.

      It should be noted that (at least in this jurisdiction,) when the lights aren’t on, the law enforcement vehicles have no more right to be speeding that regular Joe or Jane normal. Still, they won’t go slower than 120Kph on the QE2, and I’ve never heard of them pulling someone over for doing less than 130Kph. (With the sole exception of the twice-yearly pre-planned and widely advertised super-secret-but-not-at-all-actually-secret week long anti-speeding-on-the-hiways kick. This is performed to shut the NIMBYs up for another six months.)

      Now, if you want to speed 10 or 20 kph over the limit when the limit is 50kph and it’s the middle of a city…you probably deserve to get dinged. If you are going 10 or 20 kph over limit on a stretch of flat straight hiway surrounded by vehicles 30 times your size all going 10 to 20 kph over the limit...this I find no fault in. Obeying a rule because it’s a rule has no purpose. You have to understand why the rule exists, why it was implemented and thus when it might (or might not) be okay to bend/break it. 10 or 20 over on the QE2 doesn’t end the world.

      The idiots driving at 140 or 160Kph probably deserve a spanking, if for no other reason than the speed delta between their lane and the slow one can cause heap big problems is some [expletive] driving a lorry decides to pull out into the fast lane to pass the lorry in front of him.

      It’s no different in my mind than folk who hop the border from the US to get married here in Canada because the yanks restrict marriage to heterosexual couples. Or the various lakes around the province that have de facto nude beaches despite the fact that public nudity of any type is theoretically verboten. So long as noone is harmed, and everyone plays by the same rules we’re good. When people start breaking the rules in reckless ways (drag racing in or near a metro for example) the hammer needs to come down hard. When the MAJORITY or at least a very significant minor of society start bucking the rules then it is not the individuals who need to be suppressed, but the rules which need to be re-examined.

      That at least is my opinion. I am open to being convinced otherwise, provided the argument is well spoken, cogent and accurate. Calling it thoughtcrime and putting me on a scale balance next to a duck however will not convert my beliefs in this matter.

  5. Jimbo 6
    Flame

    Good use of police resources, I say

    I'm sick of people thinking that car crimes like speeding, using a mobile etc are not 'real' crimes. If I wandered down the street swinging a 16-ounce hammer around my head, putting passers-by in danger, I'd rightly be considered a lunatic: however, piloting 1600 kilo of metal vehicle with no regard for others is somehow ok. Saw a billboard advert a while back for a Sony sat-nav, and the selling point was that it told you whether there was a speed camera ahead - even multinationals are happy to facilitate crime, if it's the 'right sort'. I doubt they'd ever produce something that told you if you were about to encounter a drug sniffer dog, for example. Also doubt any police would ever go after Sony the same as SA cops are doing with an individual tw*tter... one law for the rich, yet again.

    1. Cameron Colley

      OK, I'll bite.

      If, however, you were swinging a hammer around a completely deserted road in the middle of the countryside you wouldn't expect to be photographed and prosecuted after the fact. In fact, even if you were in a more built up area if nobody was around, then when picked up on CCTV you'd probably only be sent home.

      However, if you do 77MPH on a completely deserted stretch of road in the middle of nowhere where the only person you would kill by speeding is yourself, then you still get nicked. Yet you can drive at 30MPH past a school at chucking out time, between parked cars, and a speed camera wouldn't stop that.

      I don't think most people think they should be able to go as fast as possible everywhere, most people just tend to think that real police spotting real dangerous driving is more important than cameras stopping something which may not even be dangerous.

      Oh, and if people slow down for the cameras then, surely, they're doing their job by making people go slower? So, in what way is this guy preventing them working?

      I suspect that the SA police are just pissed off they get less money from their cameras.

      1. Jimbo 6

        Glad someone bit :-)

        Have you been outside the cities lately ? You might find that all those leafy, twisty country lanes are actually quite busy with horseriders, cyclists, walkers and lots of other people who don't have an impact cage around them to cope with someone storming round the corner and hitting them at 80mph. They just DIE.

        Yes, cameras are indeed doing their job by making people go slower. What I have a problem with is people using technology to go "ok, there's now no speed camera for 15 miles, so I can drive at whatever bloody speed I want for the next 14.5".

        If I want to dance the fandango whilst waving a lump hammer, yes I can do it in a field in the knowledge that some innocent person is not going to suddenly appear within arm's reach; if I want to empty an M16 magazine, I can go to a gun club; if your life is not complete without travelling at illegal speeds, I suggest you book a day at a f---ing racetrack, or learn how to fly a plane.

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge
          FAIL

          RE: Glad someone bit :-)

          >> You might find that all those leafy, twisty country lanes are actually quite busy with horseriders, cyclists, walkers and lots of other people who don't have an impact cage around them to cope with someone storming round the corner and hitting them at 80mph. They just DIE.

          Way hey - the usual "pro enforcement" idiot hits the usual own goal.

          So what you seem to be saying is that it's OK to hare round a blind bend on a narrow leafy lane at 60mph (the normal speed limit on rural lanes) because it's within the legal speed limit. That's exactly teh sort of mentality that the current obsession with increasing "compliance" with speed limits is breeding - and before long (well actually it's already starting) it will cause a huge reduction in road safety and undo years of casualty figure improvements.

          Surely your argument is that drivers should adjust their speed to suit the conditions. That may mean even 20mph is a bit quick for some of those narrow and twisty leafy lanes. But for that to happen, drivers need to understand that that is what is expected of them. However, new drivers are being taught to drive "in compliance" with the rules (yes, a friend is a driving instructor and he confirms that over the last few years they HAVE altered the style of their teaching) as if "compliance" is somehow related to safety. So that's new drivers, but it's also happening with existing drivers - there's this constant propaganda that is teaching people "comply with the rules and you'll be left alone no matter how crap your driving".

          That isn't what the Road Safety Partnerships want, and they claim they aren't doing it, but as long as there is this fascination with "compliance" ahead of "appropriate" when it comes to speed then that is the message that's going out.

          So, simple question is :

          are you happy with the idea that a driver on your narrow leafy lane can do 60 mph irrespective of conditions AND believe that he's safe because he's in "compliance" with the speed limit ? If you are then carry on with your call for "compliance", but rest assured, you will be classed by thinking people as part of that group with blood on it's conscience when the repercussions are finally recognised and this fad to "compliance" is exposed for the anti-safety measure that it is.

          On the other hand, if you'd rather that drivers looked where they are going, assessed the situation, and adjust their speed accordingly - then campaign for that. Campaign for better driver education, campaign for drivers to be given discretion and for them to be taught that this is what's expected of them, accept that they won't get it right all the time, and call for punishment of those who who can't or won't do so.

          The problem is that it's not easy and automated to do. Speed cameras are relatively cheap and easy to use - to enforce compliance. They do NOT detect and record anything directly related to road safety (such as **appropriate** speed, or 'quality' of driving) - but these are exactly what trained Traffic Officers used to be employed to do.

          I know plenty of anecdotes about police stopping people driving inappropriately and taking reasonable measures - for example, stopping someone going a bit fast because he is a bit late for work and giving them a 25 minute talking to (and thus making him properly late). The bloke that told me that one says it sunk home a darn sight more than a brown envelope through the letterbox a few weeks later announcing that he'd be £60 and 3 points worse off.

  6. Wang N Staines

    @I avoid

    You are assuming that we all lived in a democratic country like yours and where your police forces are whiter than white.

  7. Rumcajz
    Big Brother

    Better way to Czech for cops...

    Here in the Czech Republic, some nice guys have set up a site called radary.cz It's stated purpose is to provide a public forum for drivers to let other drivers know of traffic jams, accidents, roadwork, and other driving hazards. Forums are by motorway number or by region for non-motorway roads. There is a wap interface, so almost anyone can check in, and updates can be made by SMS.

    Almost all of the forum updates are of the form "D1 towards Prague marker 122km, bastards with radar in a green Octavia behind a tree". Saved me a few fines.

    Big brother icon for obvious reasons...

  8. Mad Dave

    This guy

    deserves a medal.

  9. Thomas 18
    Go

    fear vs saftey

    Theres 2 modes of action for speed cameras / traps:

    1, identify accident hotspots and put up a sign that speed cameras have been added in order to reduce traffic speed at that point.

    2, to hide cameras all over the place and breed an atmosphere of fear amongst drivers that they must keep within the speed limit regardless of where they are.

    I think most people would prefer the first. Especially if your in a country where corrupt police just use traps to turn an extra buck.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Grenade

      Uhm,

      "Especially if your in a country where corrupt police just use traps to turn an extra buck"

      Are they're any countries that DON'T go on that list, except possibly Japan? I know in the states that at least 16 cities that I know of have gotten busted for doing things like setting up red-light cameras, then setting the yellow illegally short.

      1. Kevin 6
        Thumb Up

        hmm

        I know of a intersection like that. Got nailed by it too. Going the speed limit my front tires were past the stop line, by the time my rear tires were at the stop line the light went red. There was a whole second in between green and red, no notification that it will be changing soon(cross walk signs are supposed to blink 8-10 seconds prior to a light change, some are at 3 seconds...). Talked to other people that said the same thing and avoid that intersection like the plague. That was like 3 years ago have not driven near that light since, and have not got another citation since either.

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        @AC

        Alberta, Canada.

        We might have folk who bitch about cameras being money machines, (I have been known to from time to time,) but I do have to admit they stopped with the artificially-short-yellow crap after a very brief flirtation with it. That, and they've dialled back the cameras to areas where there actually is a speed problem. (Though the signs claiming cameras "may or may not be present" exist bloody everywhere.) being a province full of angry rednecks helps. Ever single additional camera anywhere is fought viciously.

    2. Darryl

      You missed mode #3

      Around here, they use:

      3, a) Identify spots where people are liable to drive faster than the posted limit, mainly because the limit is artificially low for the road in question,

      b) Then identify a perfect hiding spot so that the driver has no indication you're there until he sees the flash in his mirror.

      c) Sit back and watch the revenue roll in.

  10. JaitcH
    Go

    At last, a real useful application for a social network!

    Great application for Twitter: now Plod will be checking cell phone use at road blocks!

    Good for PigSpotter (PlodSpotter in the UK).

  11. Citizen Kaned
    Thumb Up

    hmmmm

    i dont know why they moan. surely the point is to stop people driving dangerously - which it is doing. what they mean is that its stopping them catching people speeding and therefore reducing the money for the piggy bank.

    if only the police in the UK were as diligent with real crime rather than people doing 35 in a 30 we might have a much lower crime rate. for example the time it took someone a month to investigate a burglary, or the time someone smashed into my parked car right next to a CCTV camera. nothing came from either of them, surprisingly!

  12. Adrian Jooste
    Stop

    Guilty or not, you're paying

    Recently I went back home for a trip to see friends and family for two months. Good times were had and I was pleased to see how enthusiastic the country was about the upcoming world cup.

    One night a mate and I went out for a drink in Jozi (Jo'burg) to meet a friend who lived out there. We are both from Cape Town so aren't familiar with the roads and areas of Jozi. Being in different surroundings always makes you a little nervous which would prove to cost us later.

    After have one beer over the course of an hour (Amstel 330cl bottle) we drove back to my brothers house where we were to spend the night.

    Along the way there was a road block and we got pulled over. My mate was driving and was asked what he was doing on the roads at 1230am. He said we'd met a friend and had a drink. Big mistake. Out came the breathalyzer and he was told he was over the limit. Ignorance was not on our side when he said the limit was 0.15 and he had blown 0.16. The officer would also not let us see the reading or get retested.

    After he threatened us with 2 nights in jail because it was the weekend and we could only be processed on Monday, he said "so what now". Obviously this was our que to cough up. R400 later we were allowed to drive off foaming at the mouth knowing we'd been done in by the very people employed to serve and protect.

    I suggest the commentard who recommends obeying the rules of the road doesn't go to my homeland because even his squeaky clean driving will be punished, especially if the officer hears you're from out of town...

    This is why people like pigspotter exist back home.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    "defeating justice"?!

    Spelling mistake, sure it should be "defending", not "defeating"!

    1. MeRp

      Er...

      You guys drank about 1.65 liters of beer each in the course of an hour and thought you were good to drive?

      1. fred #257
        Pint

        urggh

        Oh, clever little you. Yes 330cl = 3.3 litres as you spotted.

        But you know I rather think he meant 330ml. Probably, each. That's kind of the point of his story, you know?

    2. F111F
      Paris Hilton

      How Is This "Squeaky Clean"?

      You decided to drink alcohol. Then you decided to drive. You knew the consequences. You were caught and now you're angry you're not in jail? Jeez, paying a "fine" (bribe) and getting off without a blotch on your record is a good deal in my book. Only, now you complain about the same cop who let you off with a bribe? So, do the honorable thing and turn yourself in (and the cop), or stop complaining.

      Paris, for it's obvious this is something she'd do, innit?

  14. M7S

    Try this UK variant

    http://forum.notobikeparkingtax.com/discuss/new-olympic-sport-the-smart-car-chase/

  15. Timo
    Thumb Up

    Right on

    Shouldn't this guy be "Oinking" rather than "Twittering?" Finally a real use for Twitter.

    Twit on! Oh, sorry, tweet away.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Reading tweets while driving at 100 kmph?

    .......am I the only one who sees a problem with people checking their smartphones for Twitter updates when they're driving? Not much good avoiding the hidden speed camera if you're going to plow into the car in front of you, is it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      audio-tweets

      Hands free, and eyes on the road.

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