The blue light ban that never was

2009-02-24 00:00

THE excitement over a reported ban on blue lights for VIP vehicles as reported in a Sunday newspaper could be short-lived.

The Sunday Tribune reported that a directive issued last week by the police VIP unit commander, Layton Mzondeki “Sean” Tshabalala, banned the use of small and portable blue lights, LED lights and rotating blue lights

on all vehicles assigned to the protection and security services, which includes the VIP protection services.

According to the newspaper, vehicles escorting dignitaries will be able to use their blue lights only under very strict circumstances.

These could include medical emergencies, dangerous situations and when a VIP’s vehicle has been swamped by crowds.

However, national police spokes­man Senior Superintendent Vishnu Naidoo claims the directives only prohibit the use of blue lights when the VIP protectors and drivers are travelling alone, in addition to the ban on portable lights.

Naidoo said the directive is not new, but was meant to be dealt with internally.

“Unfortunately when you deal with human elements, things get leaked to the media and I had to answer questions.”

Naidoo refused to say what qualifies the use of fixed blue lights when government officials entitled to VIP protection are present.

“The members of the protection and security services know the circumstances … I’m not getting into a discussion or debate with you about that.”

He said members found in contravention of the road traffic laws will face criminal action, while the department will take action against those in contravention of internal directives.

KZN Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Bheki

Cele was quoted as saying that two acts provide for MECs to be transported in vehicles with blue lights, and “no one could just issue a directive in contradiction of the law”.

“As far as I’m aware, Tshabalala … advised his members to use the blue light responsibly, which is what we said all along.

“He said the blue light should not be used unnecessarily,” Cele was quoted as saying.

Efforts to reach Cele and his spokeswoman Nonkululeko Mbatha were unsuccessful.

sphumem@witness.co.za

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