Saturday, January 25, 2014

Unlawful and Uncooperative Traffic Cop Operating Fraudulently Fines Good Samaritan

I have just returned back from being fined by a traffic cop, ostensibly for stopping to help him.

The camera was obscured a mere 42m behind the nearest Oleander bush, and thus was at a jaunty angle to the traffic. The camera was not on a firm and stable surface, but in the ditch in the traffic island. Officer Finlayson, number 10588968, refused to hand over the permit for the camera, and became obstructionist at the end of the discussion. He fined me for stopping on a freeway without putting out a triangle. As I was parked behind him, he charged me for an offense of which he was equally guilty. Are traffic cops above their own laws? The cop is still continuing to trap illegally as I was unable to stop him.
I do not know what to do at this point. Any suggestions are welcome, please send suggestions to capebio -at-

Here is my transcript of the event.

The unmarked Venture CA175-822 was parked on the M3 near the Blue Route Mall turn-off, and had no hazard lights on, and no hazard triangle had been laid out behind the car. I ostensibly pulled off to find out if the driver needed assistance with his vehicle, but instead, after surveying the traffic camera, the cop stepped from his car, and told me that I had parked illegally on the side of the highway, and was going to fine me for doing so.
I pointed out to him that his traffic camera was illegally positioned, and that I would like to see his certificate. He said that I had not put out a traffic triangle, and thus he required my licence card, and that he would deal with my complaint after fining me.
I handed over my card, and patiently waited.
He asked me for my residential details, and I told him. He said that he didn't believe me, and that had he reasonable suspicion that I was not telling the truth, that he could detain me for up to 12 hours. I repeated my address, and he brightened up and said: "I know you! I met you once regarding a complaint near the Baxter theatre". After some moments of banter I insisted on proceeding with the issue at hand, and he then asked for my business address, and that I have to give it to him. I said that I did not have to give him my business address, as I may be unemployed.
He said, he would just write down UCT, Botany Dept.
After that asked me to sign. I said I was under no obligation to sign - so he wrote down Refuse To Sign.
He then tried serving me the notice, but I refused to accept it. He said that he couldn't force me to take it as that would be assault, so he said he would put it in my car, and walked up to my car. I said that I did not grant him permission to open my car door, and he looked uncertain for a moment before realizing that the window was open. Dropping the fine onto the seat, he said:" you have been served". He then told me that I had to move the vehicle immediately, as it was illegally parked. I said I would do so after he dealt with my complaint. He again ordered me to move it immediately or he would be forced to arrest me. I said that we had agreed that he give me the certificate.
He then walked back to his car and said that he was going to have to fine me for walking on the side of the freeway, and started writing out another ticket. 
I said that I insisted that he deal with my complaint about the camera being illegally positioned. He then handed me the certificate which I perused. It showed that the certificate of calibration was registered on the 4th of December, and that it was valid till the 04 June.
I then asked for the certificate of current calibration and permit for being there. He said that if I did not move the car immediately, he would arrest me.
I climbed back into the car, drove 300m till I was off the freeway and ran back to the cop.
I paced out 42 m from the obstructing bush to the camera that was in the centre of the traffic island. I told the cop I wished to speak to him, but he closed the window. He then proceeded to speak into his ipad. I then knocked on his window, but he ignored me. I said that my car had broken down and could he help me. He repeated what I said and laughed.
 I checked the spirit level on the camera. The centre of the bubble in the vertical plane was on the edge of the marking. i.e. not level.
I then walked in front of the camera, and he got out his car and said that would arrest me for obstruction of lawful duty if I obstructed the camera again. I said that the camera was unlawfully positioned, and that I required the camera permit. 
He climbed into the car and refused to speak to me.
I returned to my car and wrote this blog.
Twitter: TNBloganist

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cape Gooseberry under attack by herbivorous faeces!

What resembles a hunchback when curled up, throws up when disturbed, covers itself in its own faeces and eats leaves?

Faeces chomping my gooseberry leaf
A close up of  the dastardly herbivorous faeces.
This morning, after a glorious few days break exploring my inner feminine at the Space of Love, and then exploring my overt masculine at the Annual Hermanus Camp, I returned to my garden under an(other) attack. The leaves and branches were speckled in squishy wet faeces that were evidently snacking on the leaves of my gooseberry plants. They had eaten a considerable portion of the leaves of the Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana) bushes. Closer inspection revealed that beneath these faeces were larvae of Lema trilinea. With their tiny legs and massive bodies, these wouldn't look out of place guiding an alien craft through the cosmos. So perhaps the answer to the above conundrum, as suggested by my digsmate, is poo-worms?

A young worm with barely any faeces covering it.
The Cape Gooseberry is not from the Cape, but western South America. Rather, they are named from the cape/cloak that covers their blessed edible fruiting bodies. They are densely covered in hairs which due to their density, likely serve as formidable protection against microherbivores. However, once nibbled upon, the plant appears to activate a secondary defense. In harvesting the worms to incubate them, I found that leaves that were being nibbled on were much easier to remove than intact leaves. it would appear that the plant ejects its leaves to jettison its unwelcome guests. An expensive but possibly effective strategy for barely mobile pests.

The worms on the other hand have an unusual defense. From a very young age, they start accumulating faeces on their backs. These continue to pile up until the worm below is no longer visible. I've heard of organisms camouflaging themselves as turds, but to actually strap your toilet onto your back - that's an entirely different and gutsy defense! Talking of guts, their secondary defense is to puke when disturbed - just in case you weren't put off by their faecal shield.

If I could come up with an adage about my organic garden it would be this: For every food plant that thrives, it will, at some time, support an equally prolific pest that ensures that it doesn't.

I previously wrote about my strawberry plants being set upon by a veritable menagerie of pets pests including my dogs. The gooseberries, notwithstanding aphids, have thus far been my sole salvation. But no longer!
My solargooseberry plant with aphids aggregating within the cape.

What are these beasties that challenge my gooseberries as a crop, and further erode my ego as a gardener? Lema trilinea. I've never encountered them before. Here are scans of them.I would welcome identifications and information about them.

A worm resembling a hunchback from the side.

A Lema trilinea worm from below. The coloured legs are an artefact of the worm wiggling while being scanned.
Leaves showing considerable damage, and a recently hatched nesting site (RHS).

Close up of the hatching site.

In the centre-left, a clump of eggs can just be made out.

Close up of these eggs
A gooseberry with the cape having been devoured by the worms.
For more information about gooseberries including distribution and other common names, see Biodiversity International's New World Fruit Database. For their nutritional information see: