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Media statement issued by the SA Human Rights Commission regarding the usage of blue lights by the SAPS VIP Protection Unit

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


The SA Human Rights Commission is concerned about the number of road accidents involving the VIP Protection Unit. In addition, the Commission is calling for the Ministries of Police and Transport to urgently review guidelines on the usage of blue lights.

Most incidents involving blue lights cars seem to suggest that the VIP protection unit sometimes disregards basic traffic rules which as a result endanger other people’s lives.

Recently an SABC radio and TV journalist, Tim Ncube, died from a head-on collision involving the driver of a blue light vehicle, who was part of the King Goodwill Zwelithini convoy on Monday. Both Ncube and the VIP driver Thembinkosi Mpanza died on the scene. According to the reports it is alleged that the VIP protection officer was overtaking in a two-way lane facing oncoming traffic.
In November 2008, two members of the blue-light VIP Protection Unit, Constable Hlanganani Nxumalo and Caiphus Ndlela, appeared in court after Nxumalo allegedly fired two shots at a car on the N3 near Ashburton. Six people were injured.
In Gauteng, an 18-year-old Thomas Ferreira spent several months in a coma after an official car belonging to Housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi had collided with his motorcycle.

Notwithstanding the provision that authorises the usage of blue lights for emergency purposes, the Commission is however concerned that certain incidents seem to suggest that the usage of blue lights is sometimes grossly abused. The violation of traffic rules has an impact on the provision of right to life as enshrined in the constitution. The special concession granted for blue-light usage should not override the minimum safety and traffic rules that apply to all road users.  

The Commission is of the view that should urgent action not be taken by the Departments of Transport and Police; the provision of blue-light usage will be seen as disregarding safety and traffic regulations and basic human rights.

ENDS
 
 
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