MEC’s blue-light trauma

2014-01-10 00:00

THE MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, yesterday found herself surrounded by 15 police officers pointing high calibre rifles at her and her VIP protection guards after they had been forced to a stop in “a military style” operation on the N3.

She may seek counselling for the trauma she suffered in the ordeal.

She had been returning from Indaka (near Ladysmith) when she was allegedly forced off the road by authorities.

While The Witness was informed that the MEC’s car was stopped by police because it had been driving at excessive speeds on the N3 yesterday, her spokesperson, Lennox Mabaso, last night flatly denied the car was travelling too fast.

The Witness was reliably informed that police were allegedly tipped off to a car travelling at speeds estimated at between 160 km/h and 200 km/h between Estcourt and Pietermaritzburg, however these speeds could not be confirmed officially.

The drama began when police were told to stop the car, which had allegedly been seen speeding. Police mobilised and were stationed at Howick, and other spots along the N3 around Pietermaritzburg waiting to stop the car.

Travellers on the N3 northbound at Pietermaritzburg at about 3 pm yesterday , watched in amazement as a squad of police cars forced the unmarked Land­ Rover to a stop between the Church Street and Ohrtmann Road off-ramps, resulting in a back-up of traffic.

The silver Land Rover with tinted windows bore blue lights.

Not realising what was happening and anticipating some kind of emergency, ambulances had rushed to the scene too.

It is believed that police, once they realised the car carried an MEC, merely told the driver to slow down for the rest of his trip to Durban. He was also told to remove the blue lights.

Sources told The Witness that the car was believed to have been doing around 160 km/h down Town Hill in heavy traffic.

It’s believed that there was no emergency situation warranting the high speeds, but that Dube-Ncube was on her way to a meeting in Durban.

“They were going at a hell of a speed down Town Hill,” said one witness who asked not to be named.

Mabaso said Dube-Ncube had found the incident “traumatic”.

“The 15 policemen, armed with high calibre weapons pointing at her, ordered her out the car with her staff, told them to put their hands up and lie down.” He said it had been as if the police had been expecting a criminal gang.

However, once they had produced the necessary documentation, and the police realised who she was, the MEC was allowed to go.

Mabaso said that a police officer doing routine patrols had come across Dube-Ncube’s private car with the blue light on, and had run a check on it. He said the officer found that the car — her personal vehicle — did not have official number plates, so it was assumed it was being driven by a someone posing as a police officer.

“The police did explain that they are conducting routine patrols on the N3 to curb the high number of stolen vehicles where at times criminals pretend to be policemen,” said Mabaso.

“The police car followed them for 60 km, and had mobilised all police contingencies.” So, when they arrived in Pietermaritzburg, the MEC and her VIP guards felt the full might of law.

He said the MEC had co-operated fully with the police.

He said allegations of high speeds set out to “spoil the good work of the SAPS”.

“There would have been a fine if the car had been speeding. Anyone who said that must provide evidence. It’s utter, complete nonsense,” said Mabaso.

“Someone must be on a dirty campaign to tarnish an otherwise good work by the police and the leaders who by example walked the talk in proving that everyone is equal before the law and that law enforcement agencies must do their work without interference.”

Approached for comment, provincial police confirmed the incident but declined to elaborate.

Alerts sent out about the incident to emergency services yesterday reported that the vehicle was doing +-200 km/h at one point. “Vehicle is not a police vehicle. Police have been advised to intercept vehicle,” the alerts read.

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