Sunday, April 29, 2012

Police - April 13th

Subject: Police
Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2012 17:08:08 -0600

The police here function or don't function on an interesting level.  They do not come to car accidents.  If you are involved in a car accident and no one in both parties is injured, the drivers take each other's name, address, phone number, and name of insurance company (if the other driver has one).  Then, if you feel it is worth your time and effort, you proceed to the police station and report your side of the story.  The other driver will do likewise.  The police will then proceed to do nothing.  No ticket is issued, no blame is assessed, you are left to work it out among yourselves. The only action that will be taken against a driver is if he has no license.  He will then have to pay a fine.

Now a certain number of drivers in this country don't have driver's licenses nor automobile insurance and therein lies a problem. Example: Brother and sister Taylor, a missionary couple from Cokeville, Wyoming who live 3 houses away from us, were rear ended 2 weeks before we arrived in Port Elizabeth.  The driver of the truck that hit them had no license nor insurance.  The police did nothing except levy a fine to the driver without a license.  The fact that he had no insurance was not an issue of police concern.  Insurance is a matter of protection of self and one's own automobile. It is a private choice and a private concern.  If insurance is mandated at all by the government, it is grossly ignored by a multitude of automobile owners and drivers, and ignored by police in cases of accident, assessment of blame, and order to fix the other driver's car.The car was towed to a garage to be fixed.  It was salvageable.  

In the meantime, Elder & Sister Taylor had to rent a car at their own expense to continue with their daily missionary work.  The Church's insurance on their rear ended vehicle covered the repair work, not a rental car. It took the garage 3 weeks to fix the car.  The rental price per day for the rental car to include insurance was $58 U.S. dollars. 21 days X $58 = $1,218 U.S. dollars.  The no license, no insurance driver never had to contribute a penny.  His truck suffered no damage.  He was free of all responsibility, free from non- existent police action, and free from insurance claim. This is how things function here. 

They say that Blacks walking along the side of roads at times get killed by motorists. In the case of serious injury or fatality, if notified, the police show up. Yesterday, we passed an accident where a motor cyclist was hit by a car.  The police showed up. What will happen, if anything, who knows.  In the case of pedestrians killed on the roadside I am informed that the general rule of thumb is, "The pedestrian should not have been walking on the road.  He should have been several feet off to the side.  Hence, it is the pedestrian's own fault." Automobiles do take precedence on roads and in parking lots and some Blacks do walk on the actual roadside itself as opposed to a few feet off. I have had to slow down and be careful at times passing pedestrians simultaneous as an approaching car. Whatever else the police do or don't do I do not know.  But, as  you mentioned Everett, the police or fire truck going to shanty town would have some problems.

I keep thinking I am going to run out of "differences" perceived in life here.  But being we have only been here 4 weeks, differences are obvious in comparison to things back home. I have yet to see chewing gum here or anyone chewing it and U.S. kids, without question, are constantly eating candy compared to kids here. By the way, I have talked to one policeman here.  He stopped us on the highway and asked if we had any firearms in the boot.  I said, "No, we are missionaries and have come in peace." He replied, "Then say a prayer for us."  Well, having seen how or how not the police function here, perhaps I will.  It's 1 a.m. bedtime.  Goodnight.

Elder S.   

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