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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

‘VIP protection unit raises concerns of threats to motorists’ – AA

In the latest incident, which was captured on video, members of the police’s presidential VIP protection unit could be seen assaulting three civilians.

The Automobile Associations (AA) has warned the vicious assault on three drivers on the N1 highway by members of the South African Police Services (Saps) VIP Protection Unit again raises concerns over the threat the unit poses to motorists in the country.

The incident, which was captured on video and has spread like wildfire on social media, shows members of the police’s presidential protection unit assaulting three civilians.

The VIP Protection Unit in the video provides security for Deputy President Paul Mashatile.

The members in plain clothing took turns kicking the three men.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) confirmed that the three victims were all military trainees based in the city of Tshwane and is investigating a case of assault against them.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Blue light VIP Saps officers assault motorists


AA CEO Willem Groenewald said the incident is “outrageous and deplorable.”

“In early 2022 we noted our deep concerns about the so-called Blue Light Brigades and the threat they pose to road users. They are aggressive towards other drivers often pushing them off the road to ensure their convoy has easy passage – many times through heavy traffic.

“We noted then, as we do again here, that anecdotal evidence points to members screaming at other motorists, showing their firearms to other motorists to intimidate them, and generally being belligerent when on the road. The latest incident is another example of a unit acting above the law,” said Groenewald.


Groenewald adds that despite repeated calls for proper oversight of the VIP unit’s operations this clearly has not happened.

“This incident is yet another illustration of how laws are deemed to apply to one section of the population but not to another. It simply cannot continue like this.”

Reckless and endangerment  

Groenewald said while section 58(3) of the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA) permits drivers of emergency vehicles to disregard the directions of a road traffic sign displayed in the prescribed manner, they don’t have the right to drive recklessly and must ensure the safety of other motorists.

“We contend that any driver who drives recklessly or is careless about the safety of other users on the road should be held liable for gross negligence where they pose a threat to property or another person whether they are driving a politician, delegate, VIP, or a car fitted with a blue light, just like any other road user.

“The latest violent incident has gone beyond any standard practice of policing and cannot be justified in any way,” he said.

Obey the rules of the road

Groenewald notes further that considering the country’s “disastrous road safety situation,” the behaviour of drivers in the VIP Protection Unit – and those they are transporting – cannot be left unchallenged.

“I repeat what we noted in 2022 that if politicians and members of the Cabinet speak on road safety, and the need to deal effectively with the carnage on our country’s roads, they must also obey the rules and instruct their drivers to do likewise.

“When Blue Light Brigades exceed speed limits and drive dangerously and recklessly, the message is that rules don’t apply to them, and that the safety of other road users doesn’t matter to them,” Groenewald said.

ALSO READ: Ipid investigating VIP protection cops after vicious assault