Lower ‘blue light’ fine

2013-09-06 00:00

“BLUE light driver” Caiphas Ndlela yesterday had his negligent driving conviction reduced to one of inconsiderate driving on appeal.

Judges Mohini Moodley and Philip Nkosi reduced Ndlela’s sentence to a R2 000 fine (or six months’ imprisonment) plus six months’ imprisonment suspended for two years.

He was originally sentenced to a R3 000 fine (or two years’ imprisonment) plus a further two years’ imprisonment conditionally suspended.

Ndlela said the verdict will not affect his employment as a driver and police officer.

The verdict arose from a November 15, 2008 incident when his colleague Hlanganani Nxumalo fired shots on the N3, scaring motorist Anuvasen Moodley into veering to the opposite carriageway at Ashburton, colliding with another vehicle.

Nxumalo was convicted of negligently firing his gun and sentenced to a fine of R12 000 plus a suspended sentence of four years’ imprisonment.

Ndlela’s conviction was for continually putting pressure on Moodley to move over by driving closely behind him, which the trial court found had created the danger of an accident.

The appeal court, however, said Moodley had testified to losing control because of a shot fired by Nxumalo, not because of Ndlela’s driving.

In the view of the appeal court, Ndlela was guilty of inconsiderate, but not negligent, driving.

Judge Moodley further said a “flashing blue light” does not invest the driver “with unrestricted authority to do as he or she pleases … to the detriment of other drivers”.

She said police have the authority to require other road users to give way when there is “a real emergency”, but this freedom is not applicable to any trip irrespective of its purpose.

She agreed that the fact that Ndela and Nxumalo were rushing to fetch MEC Meschack Radebe for a meeting did not constitute an emergency.

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