YOU CAN HAVE IT BACK IN 24 HOURS: Cape Town drivers caught using cellphones behind the wheel will have to cough up R500 and wait 24 hours to retrieve their phone back.
CAPE TOWN - Making phone calls or texting while driving in Cape Town could cost you your cell phone under a new by-law allowing police to confiscate phones for 24 hours.
In their first peak-hour blitz since the law came into effect in July police in unmarked vehicles seized 16 phones from loquacious and quick-fingered drivers.
Jason Hill, one of the first offenders nabbed, was unrepentant: "We are South Africans, you know. We are always going to use the device and be on the look-out for cops. It's just the way we are."
R500 FINE OR JAIL
The by-law states that cell phones can only be used in a car with a hands-free kit. Motorists caught breaking the law face a R500 fine and/or a jail term of up to three years.
City officials said they were fed up with fining 8000 drivers a month without seeing any change in their behaviour. Deputy chief of traffic services Andre Nel said: "We're giving out lots of fines but obviously it is not a deterrent"
Many disgruntled drivers said confiscation was an over-reaction; others applauded it as a sensible step towards preventing accidents caused by distracted drivers.
Delivery driver Osman Yehye said: "Sometimes you see someone chatting on the phone and you have to hoot because they don't see traffic lights change. When people are on the phone they don't use their indicators and that's how accidents happen."
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