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Call for inquiry into fatal blue light crash

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Shan Pillay

Yusuf Bhamjee

Durban - Opposition parties have called for a thorough investigation into a fatal road crash which involved bodyguards for uMgungundlovu mayor Yusuf Bhamjee.

Andile Phungula, 27, was killed on Monday morning after a car escorting Bhamjee crashed into his Fiat Uno, which had broken down on the N3 Durban-bound lane near the Shongweni off-ramp.

His family claims Phungula had moved the car to the side of the road, while Bhamjee’s bodyguards have reportedly told investigators the car had been stationary in the fast lane.

Leader of the DA in KwaZulu-Natal, Sizwe Mchunu, said this was a sensitive matter and should be investigated thoroughly, especially as it came just a few months after Bhamjee’s bodyguards were involved in a “life-threatening incident”.

He was referring to an incident last October in which two of Bhamjee’s bodyguards shot at a motorist for allegedly obstructing the mayor’s convoy.

Charges of attempted murder against the two bodyguards were later converted to pointing and discharging a firearm.

The Daily News established that one of the two bodyguards implicated in the shooting was driving the car which crashed into Phungula’s Uno.

There are allegations that the mayor’s bodyguards were speeding, with a source close to the investigation also dismissing claims that Phungula’s car was in the fast lane when the accident happened.

“If the deceased’s car was in the fast lane, why is it that nothing happened to him while he was on that road for many hours? It is concerning that nothing happened to him until the bodyguards crashed into him,” said Mchunu.

He questioned why nothing seems to have been done to punish the bodyguards after the shooting incident.

“The question to ask now is if the mayor acted in a responsible manner or not. People’s lives are at risk when we have people like these on our roads. By virtue of being elected public representatives, public office bearers are custodians of the country’s laws.”

Mchunu said the DA would continue calling for strict regulations on the use of blue lights and the conduct of members of the VIP protection unit.

“This has to be brought under control for it also puts in danger the lives of those people who are being transported. I don’t understand how some of these politicians agree to be driven at speeds exceeding the speed limit,” said Mchunu.

Mbongeni Madlala, an IFP councillor at uMgungundlovu district municipality, said his party would write to the municipal manager to request a report on the accident.

He said the crash looked like a case of negligence on the part of the bodyguards.

“Even with the shooting incident we wrote to the municipal manager, but we never received any report. He (the municipal manager) cited employer-employee confidentiality, but we will not let this rest.”

Madlala said the latest incident was an indication that Bhamjee’s bodyguards were not properly qualified.

“We are concerned that there seems to be no screening of these people before they are employed by the municipality,” Madlala said.

bheki.mbanjwa@inl.co.za

Daily News


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