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
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.
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