Organisation calls for ban on blue light brigades

The Justice Project South Africa is petitioning the ban of blue lights for everyone except marked emergency and enforcement vehicles, it said on Wednesday.

The abuse of blue lights by so-called “blue light brigades” had raised public anger the organisation’s chairperson Howard Dembovsky said.

He said the misuse of blue lights, coupled with aggressive and reckless driving, had led to serious accidents involving civilians. This behaviour could not be tolerated any longer, he said.

A petition on the project’s website would be presented to Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele by December 1 for action by December 31.

At the weekend, the official vehicle of Gauteng provincial minister Humphrey Mmemezi knocked a teenager off his motorbike in Krugersdorp, leaving him critically injured. Thomas Ferreira (18) had been driving to Randfontein to visit his girlfriend when the accident happened.

The vehicle, with flashing blue lights, had reportedly overtaken a taxi on the yellow line before jumping a red traffic light.

Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane had said Mmemezi was on his way to an urgent meeting.

Dembovsky said while there was no definition of “emergency” in the National Road Traffic Act, it could be assumed that an urgent meeting did not fall within the definition.

The FF Plus said on Wednesday it planned to ask Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to undertake a comprehensive investigation into all cases where road users had been affected by officials using blue lights.

“We want the public protector to make recommendations about regulations which restricts the use of this type of vehicle,” FF Plus parliamentary transport spokesperson Anton Alberts said.

“Regulations which restrict the use of blue lights on official vehicles have to be drafted urgently.”

Alberts also called on Ndebele to ensure that officials set an example when on the road.

The Democratic Alliance said on Wednesday that Mokonyane needed to take responsibility for the use of blue lights by her officials.

“The DA have successfully banned the use of blue light convoys in the Western Cape and premier Mokonyane must do the same in Gauteng,” provincial DA safety spokesperson Kate Lorimer said.

“Mokonyane’s defence of the use of blue lights is completely unacceptable.”

Not arrested
Lorimer said in terms of the National Road Traffic Act, vehicles being used for civil protection had to abide by certain laws.
The vehicle had to be driven with “due regard to the safety of other traffic” and use blue lights and sirens for the whole trip.

She said witnesses had reportedly seen blue lights flashing only when the car passed a taxi and went through a red robot.

Mmemezi and Mokonyane visited Ferreira’s home in Krugersdorp on Tuesday to offer support to his family. She agreed to help with his medical costs and anything else needed for his recovery.

A case of reckless or negligent driving had been opened against the driver of the vehicle, according to provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale.

“He was not arrested ... and we are investigating. He may be issued with a warrant of arrest to appear in court. A warrant of arrest is not standard procedure for an accident.”

Dembovsky said he hoped the law would take its course, with the driver being charged with attempted murder.

“He cannot reasonably claim that he could not have foreseen that proceeding through a red traffic light could not have led to the injury or death of another motorist.”—Sapa

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