Blue Light Brigade: A timeline of infamy – 10 incidents involving South Africa’s VIP Protection Services

File Picture: Andrew Ingram

File Picture: Andrew Ingram

Published Jul 4, 2023


As outrage continues to grow over a viral video showing heavily armed VIP Protection Service officers allegedly beating three civilians to a pulp on the side of a highway in Johannesburg, it is not the first time that the blue light brigade has been in the spotlight.

Several high-profile incidents show a pattern of reckless and intimidating behaviour by the VIP Protection Services of the SAPS, casting a long shadow on the reputation of South Africa's security services.

Calls for reform have been frequent and loud, but change has been slow to materialise.

Here is a list of some of the most notable incidents to have occurred involving the Blue Light Brigade:

– November 2008: Two members of the blue light VIP Protection Unit, Constable Hlanganani Nxumalo and Caiphus Ndlela, appeared in court after Nxumalo allegedly fired two shots at a car on the N3 near Ashburton. Six people were injured.

– February 2009: A pedestrian was killed after being hit by a car that was part of then president Jacob Zuma’s cavalcade.The incident happened near Ulundi’s B North section in northern KwaZulu-Natal, as Zuma’s bodyguards were making their way to Nongoma where Zuma was to address an ANC manifesto rally.

– November 2011: Thomas Ferreira, 18, of Krugersdorp was on his way to his girlfriend’s home in Randfontein on his motorbike when he was hit by an official vehicle of Local Government and Housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi.

– January 2015: Two cyclists were allegedly assaulted by members of the blue light brigade in Cape Town for not clearing the road fast enough.

– March 2015: A young man was killed in a crash involving State Security Minister David Mahlobo’s blue light convoy near Witbank.

– September 2016: The VIP Protection Services allegedly assaulted a man in Pretoria for not pulling over fast enough.

– April 2017: A Durban woman was injured after her car was forced off the road by a speeding blue light convoy.

– July 2017: Reports emerged of a motorist in Johannesburg being threatened at gunpoint by a member of the brigade for not moving fast enough.

– June 2018: A convoy was involved in an accident in the Free State, allegedly speeding and causing two fatalities.

– March 2022: A blue light brigade was implicated in a Johannesburg incident where a motorist was assaulted and their vehicle damaged for “not showing due respect”.

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