200 km/h charge of blue light brigade

2009-02-26 00:00

Durban to Midmar in 35 minutes. That’s all it took a speeding blue light convoy of four luxury vehicles on the N3 yesterday, according to sources, who allege the convoy was doing over 200 km/hour at times.

And although MEC for Community Safety and Liaison Bheki Cele did travel to a function in Ladysmith from Durban yesterday morning and returned yesterday afternoon, his spokeswoman Nonkululeko Mbatha insists he was not part of the offending cavalcade. Sources speculated that the convoy was Cele’s. So who was the convoy transporting, and why were they in such a hurry? These questions are still to be answered.

The convoy raised the ire of other travellers along the N3 yesterday after their high speeds and “roadhog” behaviour reportedly pushed people off the road and left a trail of angry and nervous motorists in their wake.

Sources told The Witness that the convoy were spotted leaving Durban at 7.15 am. By 7.50 am, they were almost at Midmar. At 8.10 am, they were at Balgowan. And that’s in morning peak traffic.

Listeners to East Coast Radio plotted the the convoy’s progress along the N3 during the Big Breakfast Show with Daryl Illbury and traffic guy Johann von Bargen of Pro Driving Tactics.

Speaking to The Witness, Von Bargen said they had calls warning other listeners to watch out on the N3 as the convoy was driving fast and pushing people off the road. He said the danger was that people are not trained to deal with this kind of behaviour.

“Drivers don’t know where to go and they panic when they see a convoy flashing their lights at them. It’s really dangerous.”

The convoy was seen again yesterday afternoon returning to Durban and again reported on East Coast Radio.

Speaking to the Witness on condition of anonymity, a husband and wife who saw the convoy at Midmar Dam, as they were travelling along that route on their way to work, said that it was led by a black Audi, followed by three big SUV type cars, described as either BMWs or Nissans.

The couple said the convoy straddled the road, hogging the centre line, except when overtaking.

“They came from nowhere and almost pushed us all off the road.

“A woman driving in front of us in the fast lane was doing about 120km/h. They flashed their lights at her and shot past, giving her a terrible fright too.”

The estimated the convoy was travelling at over 160 km/h at the time. Just further up the road the convoy had to grind to a virtual halt as they encountered one truck overtaking another.

The angry couple said the convoy had placed lives of other road users at risk.

“Why do we have a speed limit if it doesn’t apply to everyone? It’s unnerving when you see cars driving at a breakneck speed.”

Another source told the Witness that many traffic officers had been talking about the cavalcade yesterday, after traffic officers patrolling the road had been flashed at to move over.

One traffic officer said that they were angered by the blue light brigade, as they paid no heed to road rules that it was their primary duty to uphold.

“Why don’t they rather just use helicopters and stay off the road?” she said .

Yet another irate person told the Witness that they had seen the entire convoy overtake a traffic vehicle, which refused to budge for them, in the left hand lane.

Cele’s spokesperson, said the MEC had left Durban at a different time to that quoted and that the times “definitely clashed”.

She expressed disbelief that the convoy had moved so fast.

Mbatha gave the assurance that an investigation will be carried out to see who the convoy was transporting.

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