Female Right To Information Act (RTI) police officers in KwaZulu-Natal say being undermined by male motorists and their male counterparts are some of their daily challenges within their profession.
In commemoration of Women’s Month, the provincial Road Traffic Inspectorate conducted two roadblocks in the province with only female officers on duty. The officers conducted roadblocks on the N11 in the northern parts of the province and on the N2 at the Mthunzini Toll Plaza on the north coast. Many of these female officers say enforcing the law is not an easy job. Officer Sithuthukile Yengwa, who has doing this job for years, says she has learnt to be disciplined when putting up with difficult motorists.
“Life as a female traffic officer is not easy because you get undermined a lot by motorist by other people as well even amongst yourselves. Women find it very easy to pull each other down. So you try to be strong when you are at work. You leave your problems behind. Because it’s an environment where you need a lot of power, physical ability. As we carry firearms and you need to be able to use them as well.”
Officer Kallie Maharaj has been doing this job for almost 30 years. Maharaj says the job has changed and technology has improved their task. She believes that women should be afforded equal opportunities like men.
“As a female coming into a male-dominated sector it is very challenging in a sense that as a traffic officer there are only limited females in high positions. We need to have that diversity, where we have women in power, sitting and holding high positions. Where we are recognised for our experiences, our knowledge that we possess at the same time we need strong women that are going to face the challenges of a male-dominated world. We need decision-makers, that are going to stand by their decision when they are sitting in power.”
KZN’s RTI Spokesperson Zinhle Mngomezulu-Mali says the number of drunken driving cases has decreased as officers are no longer using a breathalyser to test motorists if they have consumed alcohol. The use of breathalysers was suspended in light of health concerns around COVID-19.
Mngomezulu-Mali says the roadblock was also conducted in an aim to remind motorists that traffic officers are still visible on the roads despite the lockdown.