‘Blue light bullies’ strike again

2008-09-23 00:00

A 52-year-old woman from Umlaas Road in Cato Ridge became the latest victim of the “blue light bullies”, the abusive government employees driving vehicles fitted with blue lights.

Jude Ward, a farmer and businesswoman, said she was attacked on the N3 near Camperdown yesterday morning at about 8 am. She was allegedly pushed out of the fast lane of the N3 southbound, and was forced to pull over by the two occupants of a white VW Polo Player flashing blue lights.

After Ward stopped, near the Halfway Garage near Camperdown, the two men, who were wearing name tags, got out of their vehicle and manhandled and assaulted her, claiming she had been hogging the fast lane.

The matter of government employees abusing their emergency blue lights became a thorny issue last year, with members of the public complaining repeatedly about being abused by such convoys while driving on KZN roads.

The Witness has confirmation that the Polo Player belongs to the KZN Transport Department. It was not clear why the occupants were in a rush at the time of the incident.

“As I was entering the off-ramp with the aim of stopping at the garage, following their orders, they cut in front of me and forced me to a dead stop at the off-ramp. They jumped out of their vehicle and ran to my car. While one of them was pulling me by my hand through the window, another one was opening my door,” said Ward, who reported the matter to the Camperdown police station.

Ward said that as the men were approaching her vehicle, she quickly reached for her cellphone to call her husband.

“As he was pulling me, my husband heard me screaming ‘leave me alone, leave me alone’ and he heard the man talking back,” she said.

Ward said that as one of the men pulled her, she fell out of the vehicle and sprained her arm.

She immediately got back into the vehicle and locked her door. But as she was trying to close the window, the man forced his hand in, preventing her from closing the window. She said the attack stopped after another motorist intervened and shouted at the attackers to leave her alone.

Ward was taking her two workers, one of whom was sitting on the back of her bakkie, to Hillcrest. She said she had been driving at about 120 km/h in the fast lane trying to overtake trucks on the highway, which had heavy traffic.

“Suddenly, I saw this vehicle flashing behind me. I drove fast in order to overtake the trucks and move from the fast lane. This vehicle tailed mine and the men used their hands to signal me to move over. As I continued to accelerate, they came close and the passenger opened a window and shouted that I pull over,” said Ward.

Ward alleges that while she was parked outside the Woolworths shop at the garage, one of the men said to her, “Don’t worry, I will get you.”

Transport spokeswoman Nonkululeko Mbatha offered the following explanation: “There were emergency deployments today [yesterday] that required vehicles to travel under emergency circumstances.”

She had no further details on this specific complaint as night staff deployed had not yet returned.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram confirmed that Ward had laid a complaint. He said police are investigating a case of negligent and reckless driving and assault.

The Witness has published stories of vehicles taking top politicians, including ANC president Jacob Zuma and KZN Premier Sbu Ndebele, bullying other motorists off the road.


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