Journalist Tim Ncube and a VIP protection officer were killed in a head-on collision in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday, police said.
The two were travelling in opposite directions on the N2 on Monday night when the accident happened, said Captain Jabulani Mdletshe.
The officer who was killed was driving a blue light vehicle that formed part of King Goodwill Zwelithini’s cavalcade. Mdletshe said the king was being driven from his Nongoma palace to a doctor in Richards Bay.
Two other passengers in the VIP officer’s car were seriously injured and taken to the Empangeni Garden Clinic.
Ncube, who was heading to Mtubatuba, had one passenger in his car who was also seriously injured.
“All I know is that it was a business trip,” said Mdletshe.
The Zululand Fever reported earlier that the VIP driver was trying to catch up with the cavalcade and attempted to overtake another car. The accident took place in a 60-80km/h zone near the township of Kwamsane. A third vehicle crashed into the wreckage. Three other people were injured, the Fever reported.
Ncube was a seasoned journalist in radio, TV and print media.
KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize sent his condolences to both families.
“Ncube played a significant role in the promotion of peace, reconciliation and fostering better relations between various communities as a journalist at the height of political violence in KwaZulu-Natal,” Mkhize said in a statement.
“He dedicated his energies to serving the people of this province while working for the SABC, when he became a freelance journalist and lately when he worked for Bay Community Television.”
The sergeant would also be missed, Mkhize said.
“That he died in his prime is not only tragic but very painful to bear. It is a great loss to the South African Police Service and to the province as a whole.”
Democratic Alliance MP Sizwe Mchunu said the accident should “hit home” to provincial government authorities, who recently rejected a recommendation by the party and other political heavyweights that the province be prevented from using blue lights.
“That a motorist’s life was robbed and other road-user’s lives placed at risk is a grave transgression of the protocol surrounding the use of blue lights and convoys,” Mchunu said in a statement.
“The bottom line is that no VIP convoy should ever put lives at risk and the KwaZulu-Natal government needs to act immediately to end this.”
The ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) said they were saddened by the deaths.
“The ANC sends its condolences to the relatives of both people killed in the accident, as well as other victims,” said provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala.
The IFP, who worked with Ncube, said his death was a loss to the “entire journalism fraternity”.
“We wish to offer our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of both men,” IFP spokesperson Eric Lucas said.
“Our thoughts are also with the King Goodwill Zwelithini. We hope that he was not harmed during the dreadful incident.”
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. — Sapa