Private N2 patrol halted over flashing lights disagreement

2015-09-23 22:13
(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

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Cape Town – A private initiative to patrol portions of Cape Town’s N2 highway has been put on hold amid a disagreement over the use of flashing lights.

Patrol organisers felt the flashing aided motorists travelling in the dark but a city official said using these lights was against the law.

The Somerset West Community Policing Forum, together with Helderberg Crime Watch, had organised a patrolling private security vehicle three months ago.

This followed the death of Warrant Officer Petrus Holz, 50, who was stabbed on the N2 near Macassar.

The CPF’s chair Billy Smith said on Wednesday that a flashing white light on the vehicle allowed a security officer to warn motorists of obstacles planted in the road.

Patrolling when it was still dark at 04:00, an officer could stop, put the lights on and then remove rocks or bricks strewn about.

"We cannot expect him to use his hazard lights and a torch. He would be committing suicide."

He was surprised when a member of the city’s ghost squad pulled the vehicle over on Friday and gave the security officer a summons.

He said the vehicle had not been flashing lights at the time.

"For three months we have been patrolling and not once did this become an issue."

Many motorists had even thanked them for their assistance.

However, organisers felt they had no choice but to halt the patrols as it was "impossible" to continue within the current framework of the law.

The city’s safety and security mayoral committee member JP Smith said on Wednesday they were not being fastidious or shortsighted but using flashing lights was a "slippery slope".

"The city indicated we were happy for them to use the solid white light. The fact is that these things are governed by law."

He said the vehicle was "suspended" three months ago for the light and again stopped last week.

"The security company is a much appreciated assistance. We have bent over backwards to accommodate them. But the improvement of safety is not dependent on the security companies. A lot of people are putting in a great deal of work."

It was recommended that the group write to provincial transport MEC Donald Grant because he had the power to extend the national road traffic act.

Billy Smith said he would contact Grant straight away.

"All I am asking is that we carry on with this in the interim. I am asking them to turn a blind eye in the interim."

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