‘Blue light brigades’ on South Africa’s roads are again in the spotlight as a petition to have them banned nationwide has been started on Change.org.
The petition comes in the wake of several recent incidents in which motorists have come under seige, either by being forced off the road or physically assaulted, by these speeding VIP units.
It also comes a decade after the Western Province banned blue light brigades on its roads, a law which at the time was said to be in line with the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996.
The then MEC said these cavalcades are ‘tantamount to to a disregard for the rule of law and a threat to the safety of other road users’.
According to Change.org, a staggering R3.76b of taxpayers’ money is spent annually on blue light brigades, to protect a mere 200 individuals.
This, compared with just R2.2m spent annually on the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, otherwise known as the Hawks, whose members are tasked with protecting 60 million South African citizens from organised crime, economic crime, corruption, and other serious crime.
“Is it not enough that the blue light brigade behaves like they are a law unto themselves – assaulting and, in some cases, killing innocent civilians on the road?” questions the petition.
“A ban must be placed on the general use of blue lights by VIP protection services until SA law clearly states when they may be used – in emergency situations only.”
Man’s death under investigation
Meanwhile, the family of the late Michael Allison, who died in 2007 after his vehicle was rammed by a Land Rover in which the then MEC for Arts, Culture and Tourism Wesizwe Thusi was travelling in, have reportedly reopened the case through civil organisation AfriForum.
Allison was travelling on the N2 from Empangeni to Mtunzini when the incident occurred.
According to a friend who was quick to arrive on the scene, ‘there was an immediate cover up’.
“[The cavalcade] consisted of a white sedan, the MEC’s Land Rover and a black Mercedes SUV-type vehicle,” he told the Zululand Observer at the time.
“When I got to the scene, Allison’s car was off the road to the left. It had been T-boned by the Land Rover but white paint next to the right rear tyre showed that it had also been hit by the lead vehicle.
“One witness told me that the Mercedes had smacked into the back of the Land Rover, which rolled before hitting Allison’s bakkie at speed.
“When I arrived at the scene, the white car had gone and the Mercedes, with minor damage to its left side, was parked on the opposite side facing towards Empangeni.
“Although the police were asking questions and looking for witnesses, the bodyguard occupants of the Mercedes just stood around and offered no information.”
For more information on the petition, visit Change.org
Read original story on www.citizen.co.za