Mayor abuses blue light

2012-07-13 00:00

MTHONJANENI Mayor Maureen Ndlangamandla may be in the soup again for using a blue light that she is not entitled to — after another was confiscated this year.

She also stands accused of pulling rank and flouting traffic laws, an allegation she denies, but which a witness says occurred.

The mayor was pulled over at a police roadblock on the R34 running through Melmoth on Wednesday.

A motorist, who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation, described how a gold Toyota Fortuner with registration plate MTHONJA ZN was pulled over by two traffic officers at about 11am.

There were two men in the front seat and a woman at the back.

The officers told the driver that there were four outstanding fines on the car, totalling several hundred rands, the motorist said.

The woman in the back of the vehicle then intervened, saying the matter would be sorted out later as they had to leave.

“Within the space of half an hour, I saw her flout at least five traffic laws, and in effect drive away from law enforcement officers.

“She asked the officers if they knew she was the mayor, and when they said yes, she answered: ‘Well, I tell you what to do’,” the motorist claimed.

The car then sped off.

The motorist said the visibly upset officers were left to deal with an angry crowd of about 10 other motorists who had been apprehended.

Like him they had questioned why they had to pay their fines if politicians were not subject to the same law.

About 30 minutes later, with the motorists now waiting in a queue at an electronic pay point to pay their outstanding fines, the mayor’s car returned, this time with a blue light flashing.

“Again the car was pulled over and an officer asked the driver for his peace officer certificate, which is a requirement of the National Road Traffic Act for anyone using a blue light.”

The driver, however, could not produce one, the motorist said.

The mayor then allegedly intervened and said she had ordered the bodyguards to display the blue light.

A senior traffic officer tried to calm down the situation and apparently told the mayor she was abusing the law.

“She again said that she issued orders, and ordered her driver to drive off,” said the motorist.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Ndlangamandla denied that she abused the use of a blue light or that she had tried to use her mayoral status to pull rank.

She had explained to the officers that she was rushing to a meeting and they let her go, ­Ndlangamandla said.

“I’m not a rude person. I spoke nicely with the officers and there seemed to be no problem.

“I displayed the blue light on my way back just to indicate to the guys that it was still me.

“In fact I’m their boss, but I didn’t say that in an abusive manner.”

Asked about the outstanding fines, Ndlangamandla said she was originally unaware that there were any, but that a municipal officer had later confirmed that there were three.

The Zululand Fever newspaper reported in May that on January 25, the Road Traffic Inspectorate apprehended Ndlangamandla near Umhloti and confiscated a blue light in her official vehicle.

She was on the way to a meeting in Umhlanga.

uMlalazi Speaker Nozipho ­Mtshali confirmed the January incident, adding that her own blue-light had been confiscated too.

A circular released to all provincial municipalities by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube in May, states that mayors and municipal managers do not qualify for blue light usage.

Department spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said they would wait for a report from the officers who were involved in the incident before deciding on a course of action.

A source within the department — who is not authorised to speak to the media — said it would seem that police and traffic officers are not aware of their powers.

The source said the mayor should have been arrested on the spot in the absence of a peace officer certificate — a requirement of the National Road Traffic Act for anyone using a blue light.

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