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A VIP protection officer at the uMgungundlovu district municipality, escorting mayor Yusuf Bhamjee, will hand himself over to the police on Monday for shooting at a motorist on the N3 earlier this week.
The protection officer’s vehicle, a Toyota Corolla, was part of a convoy escorting Bhamjee to Durban on Tuesday afternoon. The district includes several municipalities in the greater Pietermaritzburg area.
When first reported, authorities said they took the allegations very seriously and opposition parties condemned the alleged shooting as “outrageous behaviour”.
On Friday when The Independent on Saturday contacted Bhamjee for comment, he referred the queries to the municipal manager, Sibusiso Khuzwayo.
No answers were given as to where the driver was rushing to, in what way the officer felt that the mayor’s life was endangered, why there was a need to shoot, and why it took so long to report the matter officially.
Khuzwayo said the officer has been suspended, pending the finalisation of the current official investigation. There was no clarity on whether the passenger and driver were being charged.
“The incident allegedly occurred while the VIP Protection Officer was escorting mayor Yusuf Bhamjee. The mayor was in the main vehicle during the alleged incident and was not immediately aware of the incident behind him,” said Khuzwayo.
He said that the municipality would allow the law to take its course. “Internal investigations on the circumstances surrounding this incident are under way.”
On Friday, a 24-year-old Durban motorist, Wynand (who did not want to reveal his surname) said he was travelling from Howick, where he had been on business, to Durban on the N3, when just past the Mariannhill Toll Plaza, he was “sandwiched” between a Prado and a Corolla.
“The driver of the Corolla flashed his lights at me, but there was no signage or flashing blue lights to indicate it was an official vehicle, and I couldn’t move over as there were other cars and I was driving fast as well,” said Wynand.
The driver of the Corolla forced Wynand to the side of the road just past the Richmond Road offramp. The Corolla then stopped in front of him, causing a traffic backlog.
“I tried to ask the driver what he was trying to do, when the passenger in the Corolla rolled down his window, pointed his gun and fired two shots,” said Wynand. “I just drove.
“It was really busy and many people would have seen what happened,” said Wynand.
At Spaghetti Junction, Wynand noticed that eThekwini Metro officers had pulled over the Corolla, and he stopped as well.
“I asked the officers to ask the driver to hand over his gun, but the driver shouted, saying I was endangering the mayor’s life and he had a right to shoot, but he couldn’t tell me how I was endangering the mayor’s life,” said Wynand.
He laid a charge at the Pinetown police station. The next day, he found two bullet casings at the traffic island, which he gave to police.
“I also have my own investigator to see that we cover everything.”
He got the registration plates of the Corolla, GGMG03G, and the Prado, UMDM1.
“I am trying to get video footage of the shooting, as this would show what happened,” said Wynand.
The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has cameras every kilometre and one is located about 500m in front of where the incident took place. The Independent on Saturday requested footage but Sanral said it would only release footage on request to the police.
In 2008, Anuvasen Moodley allegedly braked in front of a blue-light convoy transporting KZN MEC for Social Development Meshack Radebe. A VIP Protection Unit member, Hlanganani Nxumalo, fired two warning shots in the air, causing Moodley to lose control of his car, leading to a collision with a bakkie.
Last month, shots were fired at Port Shepstone restaurateur Leanne Douglas’s car after she had failed to stop for an unmarked police vehicle. Douglas, 45, died after at least five bullets struck her blue Chevrolet Spark, causing it to flip on the N2 near Umkomaas. - Independent On Saturday