Just yesterday, we were saying...? This is fu*ked up shit. Banana Republic here we are.
The DA's Dianne Kohler Barnard calls for heads to roll after latest 'blue light bully' incident
Another SAPS VIP Unit incident: DA calls for dismissal of Divisional Commissioner
The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls for the immediate dismissal of the head of the police's Protection and Security Services, Mzondeki Tshabalala, following the DA's receipt of several credible reports of recent acts of lawlessness allegedly perpetrated by VIP Unit officers; including one particularly disgraceful incident on a Johannesburg highway yesterday afternoon.
The DA has received credible testimony from Attorney Kim Lovemore pertaining to an incident which took place at around 15h10 on Tuesday 24 February, on the N1 highway between Sandton and Pretoria, near the Olifantsfontein Bridge. The details of Ms Lovemore's testimony are as follows:
- In heavy traffic, a row of vehicles with blue flashing lights pulled up behind her - travelling at approximately 160 km/h.
- Ms Lovemore attempted to move out of the fast lane immediately. This was at a point on the highway where the ordinary three lanes are reduced to two lanes because of road works. She indicated that she was trying to move into the left-hand lane, and after the vehicles closed behind her she was forced to cut off the car to her left - causing the driver to jam on his brakes.
- The front black car then came alongside her and made as if to ram her.
- The passenger lowered his window and began to castigate her and threaten her with abusive language. After screaming repeatedly at Ms Lovemore, the passenger then opened his jacket to show her his gun.
Tuesday's incident reveals a simple, tragic truth: that instead of protecting people, officers in the VIP Unit are actively putting lives at risk. This is simply unconscionable. We must act now - beginning by dismissing Divisional Commissioner Tshabalala, a man who clearly has no ability to bring his officers into line, and whose own leadership credentials are in any case dubious given his alleged involvement in a drunk driving accident in August last year.
On Sunday it was reported by a Durban newspaper that Divisional Commissioner Tshabalala issued an internal directive to drivers in the VIP Unit emphasising the rules that they should obey. The DA was willing to give the Divisional Commissioner the benefit of the doubt, but it now quite patent that this was nothing more than window dressing, and that Tshabalala has no control over officers under his command. We believe that under these circumstances, his dismissal is the only viable option.
The DA also calls for an end to the government's silence on the blue light bullies that are wreaking havoc on our roads. We need leaders who stand up against lawlessness, rather than ignoring it, or, in the case of the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, actively condoning it. The National Transport Act of 1996 is quite clear on this matter - sections 58(3)(a) and 60(a) stipulate that even in circumstances in which authorised vehicles are forced to disobey rules of the road while engaged in acts of ‘civil protection', no vehicle may do so without "due regard to the safety of other traffic". Quite simply, then, VIP Unit officers are acting in flagrant violation of the law, and government is doing nothing to stop it.
Statement issued by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP, Democratic Alliance spokesperson on safety and security, February 25 2009