Blue lights

2009-02-28 00:00

With even traffic officers being shoved aside by yet another speeding convoy, the blue-light saga seems to have entered a new phase. When law-abiding motorists first complained about this behaviour, the authorities responded with bluff and bombast. Then came the shocking incident when a motorist was shot at and crashed, and it seemed that some sense might have been knocked into official heads. Now, with a 35-minute charge through peak morning traffic from Durban to Midmar, the bullying is apparently back with a vengeance.

This time, however, the public has done more than just scuttle for cover or meekly move aside. Cellphone calls to a popular regional radio station from people along the way made it possible to track the convoy and spread the word about its highly dangerous dash. As with private security guards and neighbourhood watches, and, more tragically, vigilante groups that kill suspected criminals, when the state fails in its obligation to enforce the law and maintain the safety of its citizens, people look to other agencies.

Perhaps public and media involvement will do something to check this arrogant abuse of official privileges. Maybe, too, the approaching election will make the political bosses think twice about their own conduct and do something to rein in their underlings. These convoys are nothing more than a display of authoritarian disdain for the safety and the rights of ordinary people, and the politicians must be held accountable.

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