'Our N3 blue light terror'

2008-11-16 00:00

SOME of the eight people injured in Saturday’s N3 blue light crash have spoken of their ordeal as they were shot at by an SAPS bodyguard, which caused their car to fly into the opposite lane, crashing into a bakkie.

The police bodyguard of Social Development MEC Meshack Radebe, who shot at the car’s tyre, will appear at the Camperdown Magistrate’s Court today on 12 counts of attempted murder, because there were 12 people in the crashed vehicles.

Eight people were injured in the incident, which has led to renewed condemnation of the behaviour of ministerial bodyguards and convoys on the province’s roads.

It is believed the policeman was trying to bully the driver of a Mazda into the slow lane.

Among the injured were twins Nireshan and Niveshan Munsamy (17), who are in grade 11 at Carter High and were going to an Indian classical dance practice in Durban.

Niveshan said a black Golf drove close to their vehicle and a policeman ordered them to pull over, but they could not.

The policeman, he said, then pulled out a gun and with his upper body out of the car window, fired two shots at their tyres.

“I think the first shot missed and the second one made us lose control. The car crossed the island and we were airborne for a few seconds and the car landed on the other side of the freeway and we collided with a van,” he said.

He added that they were in pain and they were traumatised when they got out of their smashed vehicle. Niveshan’s left shoulder and his neck were scarred by the seat belt. His twin said he experienced muscle spasms in his lower body.

Other passengers were also in pain, with Kribin Pillay and Keegan Naidu both suffering head injuries.

Naidu, who will be writing his matric Physics paper at Raise-thorpe High today, said he has no choice but to toughen up, bury the incident at the back of his mind and concentrate on his school work.

The Mazda passengers were discharged from the Midlands Medical Centre on Saturday, although the doctors had suggested that they stay overnight for observation.

The twins’ parents rushed back from a business trip to Cape Town. Their father, Collin Munsamy, said the family is not taking the matter lightly. He said he is happy no one was badly hurt or died.

“We are waiting for the police report on the investigations and we will take it from there. We are disturbed because we could have lost our children to people who are supposed to protect us,” he said.

The family received phone calls from well-wishers all over the country and even from India. The family said the callers expressed their outrage about what had happened.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram confirmed that the suspect is a member of the SAPS VIP protection unit and condemned his behaviour.

“The SAPS condemns the action of this individual member. The SAPS is a professional organisation and expects its members to act and behave professionally at all times.”

Budhram said the policeman was travelling to pick up the MEC in a black Volkswagen Golf attached to the VIP unit of the SAPS.

He said the car came up behind a police collision unit car that was behind the Mazda and forced it to pull into the slow lane, but because the Mazda was passing a truck, it could not immediately pull over. When it did, the bodyguard leaned out of the SAPS Golf and fired at the car’s tyres.

Budhram said the Mazda veered out of control into the opposite lane and collided head-on with a bakkie travelling to Pietermaritzburg.

Police found one expended bullet head at the scene, said Budhram, adding that the policeman later handed himself over to the police at the Camperdown police station, where he was arrested and charged with 12 counts of attempted murder.

Transport MEC Bheki Cele yesterday condemned the incident and the behaviour of the policeman.

He said primary investigations revealed that the policeman was handed over for arrest by Radebe.

“As government it is our duty to defend the law. We cannot tolerate bad behaviour from anyone,” said Cele.

Cele has in the past criticised those, including Witness readers, who have drawn attention to the behaviour of blue light convoys.

thandom@witness.co.za

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