Blue lights: MEC sorry

2012-09-14 00:00

EDUCATION MEC Senzo Mchunu has apologised to a Richards Bay security officer who alleged that the MEC’s driver had tried to force him off the road by driving aggressively and flashing a blue light behind him.

The officer, whose name is being withheld to protect his employer, said he felt “shaken and angry” after Mchunu’s car sped up dangerously, to within inches of his car bumper, flashed its headlights and then engaged a blue light.

He understood this to indicate that he must move out of the way, but there was no second lane to move over to, only the demarcated yellow-line area to the left set aside for emergencies.

The MEC, speaking briefly to The Witness during a lunch break at a conference he was attending yesterday , responded to the complaint by saying, “I’m sorry about that, [it] did not happen intentionally.”

He said his driver rarely engaged the blue light, and usually only when they were in a hurry.

“All it’s saying is ‘can we pass?’” he insisted. “It’s a subjective thing to say you felt threatened.”

The incident took place at about 7.40 pm on Friday, August 31, as the security guard and his wife were driving towards Kwa­Mbonambi from Empangeni.

He managed to take down the registration number and other details of the MEC’s white Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Mchunu lives in Empangeni and, The Witness was told, drives almost daily to his offices in Pietermaritzburg. He did not deny any of our informant’s comments.

The security officer said the MEC’s car was exceeding the speed limit and sat so close to his bumper that he could not even see the car’s headlights in his rear-view mirror.

Then the driver started flashing headlights, which he took as a message that he should drive faster, or move out of the way.

The motorist said: “During the daytime, I will give way to the left, drive in the yellow-line/emergency lane if necessary, but I don’t do it at night. It’s dangerous; you can’t see if a stationary vehicle is perhaps parked there.”

He said the Jeep’s driver then turned on a blue light.

“At the Mposa turn-off, he overtook us on a solid barrier line in the face of oncoming traffic.”

Shortly after that section, the road widens to two lanes. With a car and a truck ahead of the Jeep, “I saw the Jeep overtake both vehicles at a yellow island meant for vehicles turning off, which is marked with a solid barrier line.”

He saw the Jeep overtake several other vehicles along dangerous stretches of road, on blind bends and barrier lines, in pitch darkness, before it disappeared out of sight.

“The incident made me feel very uneasy and shaken. Isn’t it incidents like this that cause road rage … ?” he asked.

Ironically, only 10 days before the incident — in the wake of an Underberg accident that killed five schoolchildren — the MEC had urged motorists to drive safely.

Blue lights: MEC sorry

Security officer ‘shaken and angry’

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