Blue light incident: Cop, driver fined

2012-07-26 16:51
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Johannesburg - A police officer and blue light driver were fined R12 000 and R 3000 respectively by the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court on Thursday.

Magistrate Chris van Vuuren imposed a fine of R12 000 or four years in jail on Hlanganani Nxumalo, who was found guilty of illegally discharging a firearm.

He was also given a four-year suspended sentence.

Caiphas Ndlela, who was found guilty of negligent driving, was fined R3 000 or two years in jail plus a two-year suspended sentence.

On 9 July, Nxumalo, a bodyguard to KwaZulu-Natal's former social development MEC Meshack Radebe, was found not guilty on six charges of attempted murder.

The charges related to an accident in which six people were injured on the N3 highway near Durban, in November 2008.

Nxumalo claimed during his trial that he fired warning shots into the air because the driver of the car in front of him had slowed down.

The prosecution argued Nxumalo's decision to fire caused the driver, Anuvasen Moodley, to lose control of his car.

It veered across the highway into oncoming traffic, colliding with a bakkie.

Nxumalo and his co-accused insisted the accident was caused by Moodley's refusal to give way to their blue-light vehicle.

Van Vuuren said this was "bullying" as if to say, "get out of the way of blue light escorts".

He found that Ndlela had driven recklessly and negligently.

There was no state of emergency and because a minister was late was no excuse for putting other travellers at risk.

He said while it was impossible not to be aware of the public's anger at blue light escorts' conduct, he would not be persuaded by public sentiment and punish Nxumalo and Ndlela for the deeds of their colleagues.

Both had children to support and were under pressure to drive quickly to pick up the MEC, but this did not justify reckless driving and firing a weapon.

Ndlela's counsel, advocate Jan du Plessis, applied for leave to appeal against his conviction, but Van Vuuren said he did not believe another court could make a different finding.

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