1986 Police Car Chase Through the Streets of Cape Town
By Taswell Alexander
We spent the day at a party and we had consumed absolutely too much alcohol on that day and after I had dropped of my friend ‘AT’ at his home I still wanted to smoke a Mandrax pipe. We were still involved in the drug trade so I really had no difficulty in getting drugs at that late hour of the night. I smoked the pipe in the car and after I had smoked the Mandrax pipe I fell asleep in the car while the car was still parked in front of my friend’s house!
I was sleeping in the front seat of the car. I was drunk and drugged and I was obviously in a deep sleep and there was this constant urgent irritating knocking that felt like it was trying to almost penetrate my brain. When this infuriating noise eventually succeeded in drawing me out of my drunken stupor I slowly opened up one lazy eye and I saw a friend of mine tapping with his knuckles on the car window. Startled and surprised I opened up the door for him and got out of the car and I asked him what he was doing at that time of the night in Walmer Estate. Even though I was intoxicated I wasn’t really all that disorientated because I could see that it must have been in the middle of the night. Another car was parked in the middle of the road parallel with the Ford Cortina and as I looked to see who the driver of the other vehicle was I instantly recognized another friend of mine who was called “KP”. The car that they pulled up with was also a Ford Cortina… a stolen car of course!
“HB” answered my initial question by saying that they were looking for cars, which means that on that night they were looking for cars to steal. “HB” invited me to go with them and without a second thought I closed the door of “AT’s” Ford Cortina Ghia that I had been driving the whole day and I got into the other car with HB and KP, drunk and drugged and yet I enthusiastically joined the quest for a car to steal.
The three of us drove from Walmer Estate through the streets of the CBD, which are the Central Business District of Cape Town. As we cruised through the streets we observed the night life of Cape Town, well it really is impossible to drive with a vehicle through the City at night and not notice the teeming night life.
There were prostitutes with potential clients, businesspeople, homeless people, nightclub people, criminals, night vendors and all kinds of other types of people going about their own business and activities, unaware of the three of us who was on a journey of evil intent. But even though there was much movement around us, the streets we drove through were relatively quiet and there was not a lot of traffic driving up and down. We proceeded up Strand Street through Cape Town until we came to Somerset Road in Sea Point where we turned up into High Level Road.
The streetlights were burning all along the road, but the street was quiet; the residents were sleeping soundly at this hour I suspect. And those that were not sleeping at this moment were most probably somewhere busy or somewhere playing under the night skies of beautiful Cape Town.
As we cruised down the quiet street we saw a Ford “Bakkie“ (also known as a commercial vehicle or a pickup truck) and so we pulled up and all three of us got out of the vehicle to see whether we could break into the Ford. But we were put off by an alarm system that was installed in this “Bakkie“ so we just turned back and got into the stolen vehicle that we arrived in. A little way down the road we found another Ford and so we pulled up again and all three of us again proceeded towards this Ford Escort; this car had no alarm system and we managed to get into that car with relative ease. “KP“ got into the driver’s side, “HB“ got into the back seat and I slid into the front passenger seat and with no problem the driver started the vehicle and the car quietly moved out of its parking place without any of the residents seeing or hearing anything! Slowly we exited High Level Road and turned into Somerset Road. Just as I was about to give a sigh of relief I saw something that I did not expect at that moment.... a police van! The police van was parking with its lights off under a large tree on the right side embankment of the road. They were on our opposite side when we drove past and by now we were driving at normal speed. None of us dared to turn our heads around to see what they would do, but I fixed my drunken, drugged eyes on the rearview mirror, watching their position and hoping that they will just remain where they were. I must tell you that my bowels nearly gave way right there on the front seat when I saw how the police van started up, got onto the road and connected onto the double lane road that we were in! I just knew that they were following us.... I just knew it!
The traffic lights were red and so we obediently stopped so as not to give the police any reason to pull us over. And yet, when the police van stopped next to us the policeman in the passenger seat rolled down his window and politely asked our driver to pull over on to the side of the road beyond the traffic lights crossing. “KP“ nodded his head in false obedience and then he turned his head to the left and softly asked the two of us what he should do. Seemingly the traffic lights took an eternity to change from red to green and all the while the three of us were having a soft, and gentle but heated argument on whether to pull over or to just speed away into the dark night! I wanted us to pull over because we were old professional car thieves and we knew how to talk our way out of any sticky situation. However, if “push comes to shove“ then we could just overpower them and flee away into any nightclub, or hide anywhere because all three of us knew the streets of Cape Town very well.
One moment we were still waiting impatiently for the red light to turn to green when suddenly…with screeching tyres and grinding gears our little stolen Ford violently jumped into action!
The two police officers were definitely caught off-guard as we sped away; I don’t believe they really expected us to disobey them after they so politely requested us to pull over. They may have experienced a relatively smooth night earlier, no fuss, no hindrances, no problems…until we crossed their path in the still of the night. I don’t believe they thought we would dare to challenge their technologically advanced, turbo-charged government vehicle with our standard 1600 Ford Escort. What they didn’t realize was that they were dealing with “Risk Takers”, men who were quite used to living ‘on the edge’ on a daily basis. Dangerous and deadly adventures were a part of our daily lifestyle and I think that was one of the reasons why our individual spirits reacted in this manner in this dangerous situation.
Anyway, as we rebelliously sped away from governmental authority we understood that we have now exposed ourselves to the police as law-breakers! The police officers could not know what our crime was or even whether we did commit any crime, but what they did know was that by fleeing from them after being asked to pull over we had effectively committed a crime. As we fled into Woodstock down Lower Main Road into Albert Road I was trying to tell ‘KP’ to turn right into Selwyn Road which would lead us into Gympie Street. We could then dump the car and flee on foot. Across the Top Main Road into Searle Street we would then be able to cross the footbridge taking us over the Freeway and back to the place of my friend ‘AT’ where I parked the Ford Cortina Ghia. Unfortunately we were driving so fast that we sped past the street that we initially wanted to escape down and we just kept on driving into Salt River. We knew that we were now proceeding nearer to the Traffic Circle in Salt River which would either give us access to the N1 Freeway which would take us all the way to Bonteheuwel and Surrey Estate. However, the other access point would be to remain on the road we were and cross the bridge into Voortrekker Road into Maitland. Again our speed did not allow us to turn into the access point which would take us onto the N1 Freeway, but we were forced to cross the bridge. We really did not want to go into Maitland because there was and still is a Police Station located in Voortrekker Road which we had to pass.
By now our little Ford Escort 1600 was laboring so much that it was almost vibrating and shaking like something that was about to break apart any minute! ‘KP’ was driving that little Ford Escort 1600 like it was a big Ford Mustang V8 and we were basically ‘flying’ down a clear track with two police vans furiously chasing us. Yes, another police van had maybe responded to a radio call to join the car chase! On the inside of the vehicle we were hanging on for dear life! I know that when I entered that vehicle I was sleepy, drunk and drugged, but by now I was almost sober and definitely wide awake. It was like I was in one of those rubber dinghies moving uncontrollably and fast down the great Zambezi River rapids! My whole nervous system was screaming out in fear; fear of death wanted me to jump out of the speeding vehicle and yet I knew that would have caused death itself. We were driving at a speed that could have given any person a heart attack.
A definition of Trauma, shock, a hard knock – When a person goes into very fearful traumatic experiences then adrenaline is released and one is unguarded at that moment – all gates (senses) are opened which makes one very vulnerable for an evil spirit to enter you.
I believe that at that moment all three of us must have experienced an immense trauma as our bodies were not used to such high velocity.
We were fast approaching the police station and in the distance we could see flashing lights as the police was set up for a roadblock. As we came nearer to the roadblock I could see policemen lined up on both sides of the road, aiming their firearms at our approaching vehicle and a policeman sitting in a Nissan Senator, which was parked across the road! The police did everything in their power to motivate us to really stop; we could not go back, turn to the left, turn to the right and we could not move forward… We were effectively boxed in!
As we came nearer to the police roadblock we were still maintaining the very same speed and I was frantically trying to bring our driver’s attention to the Nissan Senator that was parked across the road and definitely blocking our progress! My friend KP just maintained his focus and replied that he was not going to stop! This was where I was fearfully hanging on for dear life with every finger and every toe because I realized that he was truly not going to stop. Then the policemen on both sides of the road opened up fire against us and all three of us almost simultaneously ducked and we lay flat on the car’s floorboard; the driver still kept his foot on the accelerator pedal and still held onto the steering wheel… I think both of us held on firmly to the steering wheel! The policeman sitting in the Nissan Senator also realized that we were not going to stop and fortunately for all of us he quickly pulled out of the way. My stomach was paining, cramping, moving, shifting and jumping at the same time as we sped through a now vacant s space like a hot knife through butter!
Miraculously we broke through that roadblock with a bullet-riddled vehicle, shattered windows and now three police vans, the Nissan Senator and a Toyota Corolla furiously chasing us up Voortrekker Road from Maitland into Kensington. The human instinct for survival was at that moment priority for the three of us and I didn’t even have a chance to check whether there were any bullet-holes in my body. We needed to maintain a high level of concentration and we needed to continue flying as fast and swift as the sparrow are able to flee from the hungry pursuing falcons. Our minds were constantly racing and thinking; we were trying desperately to think our way out of an extremely dangerous situation and all the time different strategies and options was considered. Because of the nature of our situation suggestions was just flowing; some made sense, some was confusing and some were just outright senseless and stupid! We found ourselves playing the role of lead actors in a very fast moving dramatic movie scene, but we had no script and there were no cameras. This was real time… real emotions with real excitement and real fear and definitely real bullets! We had to think just as fast as we were moving and we knew very well that this story had only three endings: we will escape, or we will arrested, or we will die either by making an accident or by being shot by the police.
I made the suggestion that we turn left into Second Avenue and drive right up to the Railway Junction crossing; we would jump over the gate, run over the Railway line and then jump another fence, into Eighth Street, Kensington where we would be able to hide at the house of a former girlfriend of mine. KP changed to a lower gear and reduced the speed of the car so that we could take a 90° left turn into 2nd Street. The time of speed reduction and the amount of speed reduction vs. the width of the turnoff unfortunately worked against our mental calculations and we just felt the rear side of the car horribly shifting to the right and the vehicle jumped onto the pavement. The three of us boldly broke the laws of the Country, but we were unable to break or supersede the fixed laws of nature; the law of physics and the law of gravity totally resisted our movements
Unfortunately KP could not adequately reduce the speed of the car for us to make the turn and we just crashed into one of those workstations built in front of a shop; I can’t remember whether it was a Telephone company box or an Electricity box. Everything happened so fast; I remember hearing screeching tyres and a loud crashing noise as we crashed. I looked with amazement and wide eyes at the front part of the car that was all folded up like a piece of cardboard paper. While we were still in a state of shock and disorientation the doors of the vehicle flung open as a group of infuriated policemen grabbed a hold of us and violently pulled us out of the stolen vehicle. All three of us were propped up separately against the car surrounded by two or three large angry policemen that fired sporadic questions at us. These questions were just rhetorical questions because these irritated policemen immediately answered their own questions with strategically placed painful blows to the body.
They were extremely livid and fuming at us for messing up their system. We did not pull over when they asked us, we didn’t stop when they were pursuing us through almost seven municipalities, we forcefully broke through their ‘well-worked out’ roadblock; we even disrespected the power and authority of their firearms. The Police Department enforced Law and Order and their systems were well established and successful in the Country, but we didn’t play by their rules and opposing and attacking their systems was a regular exercise for people with our lifestyles; that is why we didn’t surrender to their authority. I believe they knew that and that is why there was so much fury in their punches.
Anyway, they established that the stolen vehicle was registered to a resident in Sea Point and so the police took us back to the Sea Point Police Station where they laid charges against the three of us. While we were being processed in the Charge office one of the policemen asked us which one of us was the driver, KP then responded and said that he was the driver of the vehicle. The policeman said to KP… “Wow, you can surely drive a
car!” The policeman then cunningly smiled at us and asked us… “Do you actually know why we pulled you over?” We just silently stared back at him, not really knowing what to answer. This policeman was beginning to enjoy himself as he delightedly shared the punch-line with us; he’s said… “We just wanted to tell you that you were driving with dead lights!” When that policeman said that to us you should’ve seen the uniform reaction that immediately came over all three our faces… We were stunned and I was almost dazed with utter disappointment as I thought why…..oh why did we not stop and just pull over? Disappointment quickly changed to anger as I realized that I was the one who suggested that we pull over and we could have avoided this whole saga!
Anyway, there was no use complaining over spilt milk; we found ourselves charged with ‘possession of a stolen vehicle’ and after we were processed in the system we were sent to the cells. It was in the early hours of Monday morning and we were told that we will only appear in Court on the Wednesday morning.
This was one of four serious car accidents that I was involved in, before I was paralyzed in the fourth motor vehicle accident (MVA). I should have taken note that maybe GOD was speaking to me about my rough lifestyle, but I could not, or would not listen. I mean it is not every day that you are able to break through a deadly firing line in a police road block and come out on the other side unscathed! I never knew at that time there was something like GRACE or MERCY. As a gangster I knew a little about grace and mercy, but because I was spiritually ignorant of the things of the Holy Spirit, I was totally unaware of the depths of GOD’s Grace and Mercies towards me.
(1Jn 4:19) We love him, because he first loved us.
The reason why I love my GOD so much is because He first loved me, even while I was walking in the deepest of darkness.
(Eze 16:6) And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.
I thank GOD today that when He saw me wallowing and polluted in my own blood, He prophesied over my life and said….YOU SHALL NOT DIE, BUT YOU SHALL LIVE TASWELL, YES, I SAY TO YOU….LIVE TASWELL! How long have I been polluted in my own blood and how long have I been struggling to get clean and get free!
Maybe you have also experienced major happenings in your life and you survived and came through relatively unharmed and you don’t realize that it was actually GOD’s beautiful grace that carried you through to the other side.