A 57-year-old man was arrested for reckless and negligent driving after he allegedly interfered with a police motorcade.
The motorcade was escorting a “foreign VIP dignitary” to the Lanseria Airport on Sunday morning, according to national South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe.
“The man who is expected to appear before the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning was warned by traffic officials and SAPS members escorting the VIP to stay away from the convoy but he allegedly ignored warning signs,” said Mathe.
The driver allegedly tried to enter the motorcade, and on his third attempt, police pulled him over and arrested him.
“According to the National Road Traffic Act, vehicles displaying a blue light, have absolute right of way when it is safe to do so and motorists are urged to give way for them.”
Members of the public are reminded that blue lights may only be fitted on vehicles operated by members of the SAPS, municipal police services, traffic officers, and members of the SA National Defence Force’s military police.
“Civilians will be guilty of a crime if found to be utilising blue lights,” said Mathe.
Last year, IOL reported on an ongoing debate on different social media platforms across South Africa regarding the use, and sometimes misuse, of police VIP protection units which escort top government officials.
Characterised by high-speed black sport utility vehicles or powerful sedans, the convoys are known for their aggressive driving and the “protectors” are generally feared by fellow drivers on South Africa’s busy highways.
“What we have noticed is that it seems like these convoys became a status symbol for politicians. The better your security convoy, the higher the security alert around you, the more important you as an official become in your own eyes and also the eyes of those around you. That is just uncalled for,” Willem Els from the Institute for Security Studies to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika at the time.
“The protection of VIPs, the protection of the president and the vice president is extremely important. It remains the responsibility of the police, but that should be determined based on threat levels on a risk analysis,” he said.
“That risk analysis should be done every day, on a day-to-day basis and it should develop. Should the risk increase, you increase your levels, should it decrease, you decrease your levels.”
The raging debate took center stage when it emerged that the Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s security detail of police officers were recorded in a video brutally assaulting occupants of a vehicle on the N1 in Johannesburg.
At the time, Mashatile said he had become aware of the “unfortunate incident” in which members of the SAPS attached to his VIP protection detail were recorded during the attack.