Finally Some Clarity About Use of Blue Lights

Radley Keys, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Transport

BEING late for a meeting may no longer be classed as a reason for the use of “blue lights” by KwaZulu-Natal MEC’s.

This was made perfectly clear in the form of a judgement handed down by Magistrate Chris van Vuuren in the Pietermaritzburg High Court yesterday, during the conviction of two KZN VIP drivers on charges of negligence. VIP driver, Caiphas Ndlela was found guilty of negligent driving and his colleague, Hlanganani Nxumalo, of negligently discharging a firearm while travelling on the N3 in November 2008. Nxumalo was acquitted of attempting to murder motorist Anuvasen Moodley and his five passengers, whose vehicle was involved in a collision due to the shooting.

The DA welcomes the convictions and the fact that we now have clarity around the use of blue lights in this province. We further welcome Magistrate van Vuuren’s removing all doubt around the interpretation of the Road Traffic Act – an Act which has been subjected to various forms of abuse according to the requirements of senior KZN ANC politicians.

The issue of the use of blue light brigades was first muddied by former KZN Transport MEC, Bheki Cele, when he claimed during a parliamentary sitting that being late for a meeting constituted an emergency. We sincerely hope that the current MEC, Willies Mchunu and his senior officials will take cognisance of yesterday’s judgement. The safety of road users must be top priority and blue lights only used under exceptional circumstances, where there is danger to life or property.

Convictions such as the above also lay the SAPS open to enormous civil claims – the cost of which will be borne by the taxpayer. Any future attempt to defend or justify actions which endanger the lives of other road users by any MEC – in particular MEC Willies Mchunu – will be further evidence that the provincial executive just doesn’t get the public anger over those VIP drivers that are power-hungry, gun-toting individuals.

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