Crash deaths put spotlight on blue lights
Durban - The head-on collision in which a top journalist and a VIP officer died in northern KwaZulu-Natal should "hit home" to provincial government authorities, the Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday.
According to Democratic Alliance MP Sizwe Mchunu, authorities recently rejected a recommendation by the party and other political heavyweights that the province be prevented from using blue lights.
Journalist Tim Ncube and a VIP protection officer driving a blue-light vehicle that formed part of King Goodwill Zwelithini's cavalcade were killed when the officer reportedly tried to catch up with the convoy, and attempted to overtake another car, colliding with Ncube who was travelling in the opposite direction.
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 a seasoned journalist in radio, TV and print media, had one passenger in his car who was also seriously injured.
Mchunu said: "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."
"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."
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.
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."
The Inkatha Freedom Party, 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."