'Blue light' VIP escort in court again

“Blue light” VIP escort Hlanganani Nxumalo was on Wednesday ordered to appear in the Camperdown Regional Court on February 13.

Camperdown Magistrate Bheki Phoswa said the Regional Court prosecutor would then decide in which court he would appear again.

Nxumalo (28), a South African police constable living in Pietermaritzburg, is alleged to have fired two shots at a vehicle on the N3 highway between Pietermaritzburg and Durban on November 15.

The driver of the vehicle at which shots were fired, lost control of his vehicle. It then swerved across the median and collided with an oncoming vehicle.

Eight people were injured in the collision and were taken to hospital.

At the time Nxumalo was allegedly hurrying to pick up a provincial minister.

Nxumalo has been charged with eight counts of attempted murder and malicious injury to property.

Nxumalo was at first refused bail by a Camperdown magistrate on December 18, but he appealed against this and was granted bail of R3 500 by Pietermaritzburg Judge Isaac Madondo.

Advocate Louis Barnard, who appeared for Nxumalo, said the Camperdown magistrate had erred in taking into account the antics and the modus operandi of the “blue light gang of KwaZulu-Natal”—the police escorts of provincial ministers whose alleged bullying of motorists has incurred much wrath—when no such evidence was given in the bail application.”

A large contingent of media representatives was in court on Wednesday.

Nxumalo was smartly dressed in a dark suit and several of his friends were in court.

The South African Police Union (Sapu) last week welcomed a probe into the police’s VIP protection unit, saying it would render an objective finding into the conduct of its members.

“We are of the opinion that, as our country is a constitutional democracy, there is no one who is above the law,” the union said.

The probe would be conducted by the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD).

The ICD would be investigating numerous incidents involving the unit which had been reported over the past year, including one earlier this month in which a motorist had been assaulted, allegedly by the president’s VIP officers, near Johannesburg.

It is alleged that the motorist’s car “got too close” to President Kgalema Motlanthe’s convoy and that VIP unit members fired shots at the vehicle and then confiscated equipment belonging to South African Broadcasting Corporation journalists on the scene.—Sapa

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