Ongoing outrage

2009-03-09 00:00

The blue-light saga, which first came to public attention a few years ago, carries on and on, like some nasty soap opera. No matter how much public indignation there is, no matter how much officialdom deplores the various incidents, the reports of thuggery involving luxury official vehicles continue to roll in. Late last year there was the case in which an accident was caused because a motorist panicked after shots were fired by bodyguards in an official vehicle. Ten days ago we read of speeding —consistently over 200 km/h — by vehicles en route to Mooi River, taking a mere 35 minutes to travel between Durban and Midmar on the N3, a demented dash in which no one, miraculously, was injured, but which was recorded by other motorists and followed on a regional radio station. Last Wednesday a luxury vehicle transporting KZN Agriculture MEC Mtholepi Mthimkhulu is alleged to have caused a collision by cutting off another vehicle, also on the N3. The VIP driver concerned reportedly abused the other motorist verbally after the accident.

When will it stop, this aggression on public roads, this terrorising of other road users by people blinded by their own self-importance? For although the drivers and armed bodyguards — all members of the police VIP protection unit — are the ones directly responsible for the appalling behaviour, they act, surely, with the agreement of the various dignitaries they’re transporting? These dignitaries must believe they’ve a right to travel fast and dangerously, and to force or frighten other people off the roads, and this must have led many VIP drivers to believe that they, too, are untouchable. According to Democratic Alliance KZN spokesman for Transport Radley Keys, more than 100 of them have been charged with offences including murder, attempted murder and rape.

How may this recurrent abuse of power, this threat to the motoring public, be stopped? Only by constant vigilance, by the careful collection and recording of evidence (via photographs, registration numbers, and by alerting the print and electronic media), and by the persistent naming and shaming of the VIP culprits, so that, ultimately, the latter realise their attitude is unacceptable. The blue-light saga tells of an abuse of power that has no place at all in a fully functional democracy.

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