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Screw the 'blue light protocol'

2013-11-04 07:30

SHOOT ME NOW... OR NOT? South Africa is rife with 'blue light' crime but will the new protocol help target criminals and save innocent lives? Image: SAPA

JANINE-LEE GORDON

Back in October Wheels24 reported that national police commissioner Riah Phiyega told drivers not to stop when being pulled over by 'blue light' cops. Now there’s a 'protocol' to be followed by drivers and, more importantly, the men with the guns. No, not the bad guys, the cops - but will it really save your life?

The Justice Project South Africa and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (we earlier said the latter ran the toll roads, but in fact that's Sanral) have developed a protocol for ordinary okes and the police to follow. The 'blue light' brigade and you, me and the rest of the road-users who pay their salaries (ie, for whom they are supposed to work). Yes, bro, that's you and me - and the articles linked to this one are just a few of the dozens on Wheels24.

IT DIDN'T WORK THEN...

Seriously though? While this protocol (see linked story for details) might work if it is in fact a pukkah cop car pulling you over, what do you do when is isn't? Sorry, but this protocol is rubbish; do the JPSA and the RTMC live on this planet? Their "rules" would probably give the fake cops even more advantage to shoot you through the head.

I tried this 'protocol' that is claimed to be new some years ago before it was set in stone and it didn't work then. I doubt it will now. Here's what happened then - the same cops will be on the beat now...

Read the protocol here, then come back to this article...

OK, welcome back... Ongoing reports of disastrous consequences arising out of people either fleeing legitimate police or stopping for “blue light gangs” have been a serious concern for quite some time. Hip hop star Khuli Chana was the latest victim of a horrible incident when he was shot by police while observing the protocol just because his car looked like the one they were looking for.

In the aforementioned Wheels24 article, Piyega had also announced that a dedicated unit had been established to investigate “blue light crimes” and that the unit was currently investigating 250 complaints. But being pulled over by police, fake or not, can be a fatal threat, especially in Johannesburg.

I lived there for several years and often had to drive my then partner to work at 3am for his morning shift.

WOULD I BE SHOT...

One such morning I was followed by a police vehicle for quite a distance. However, only when I was in a poorly lit and quiet street did the police car fire up its sirens and rush up behind me, trying to get me to pull over. That immediately had alarm bells going off and made me curious as to why they had not pulled me over sooner. I tried not to panic, slowed down, put on my hazards and rolled down my window trying to indicate to the officers to follow me. (It's what the 'new' protocol suggests.)

I knew there was quite a busy fuel station up ahead so I drove slowly, probably about 40km/h, to it looking for some cameras. I wanted to drive to the Sandton police station further down the road but was afraid I would not make it there without being shot.

No matter how cool you try to keep in these situations, we’re human. Taking note of small details such as the officers’ names slips your mind. I waited for both officers to step out of their car, surprised to see their weapons already in their hands. I always try to be courteous and while I greeted with a “Good morning officer, is there a problem?” I was rudely told: “Do you know I could have shot you if I wanted, why didn’t you pull over?”  Reassuring, hey?

'I FELT VIOLATED'

I tried to reply that I didn’t feel it was safe to do so,and why, after I had acknowledged their presence and indicated for them to follow me, did they think I was a threat? They in turn remained rude and aggressive.  I said if this was a problem, could we drive further up the road to the police station. They said it wouldn’t be necessary, I could be on my way.

I wanted to drive to the police station to report the incident as I had felt violated in a way but I was so rattled I just wanted to get home and lock my doors.

What, dear Commissioner Phiyega , is the protocol to save our own lives when the blue light gangs do turn out to be fakes?

Please, read the protocol and then, if you think it will work (or are we giving criminals more scope to get away with murder) email us and we'll publish your thoughts or use the Readers' Comments section below...
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Read more on:    riah phiyega  |  blue light incidents

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