Blue lights dim for mayors
Mayors and municipal officials in KwaZulu-Natal have been banned from driving around in blue light convoys.
The instruction from KwaZulu-Natal cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Nomusa Dube was distributed to the province's 61 municipalities, instructing mayors, municipal managers, officials and councillors to remove blue lights from their vehicles after a decision was made by the provincial cabinet.
Traffic officials and municipal police are also not allowed to provide municipal employees with convoy services except if it is one car driven by a police officer.
"I can confirm that in response to a cabinet directive regarding the usage of blue lights by the municipalities, Dube issued a circular to communicate how the utilisation of blue lights by mayors and some councillors in the province will be controlled," spokesman Lennox Mabaso said.
"I am not at liberty to get into details as it has already been communicated to the mayors.
"It was an internal communication between us as different spheres of government, hence the circular," Mabaso said.
The directive does not apply to Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, the premier and MECs.
"The king and premier have privileges and can use blue lights at any given stage," said Mabaso.
KwaZulu-Natal is not the only province to restrict the use of blue lights.
The DA-led Western cabinet passed a resolution two years ago which ordered that all blue lights and sirens be removed from the vehicles of MECs. This was completed by November 24 in 2010.
Former SABC radio and TV journalist Tim Ncube was killed in April when Sergeant Thembinkosi Mpanza, a VIP protection officer, crashed into his car while driving a blue-light vehicle as part of King Zwelithini's convoy . Both men died on the scene.
The use of blue light convoys has caused national outrage as drivers have been accused of aggressive driving, threatening motorists and causing a number of accidents in recent years.
Gauteng housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi's convoy ran over matric pupil Thomas Ferreira last year while allegedly speeding to get to a meeting.
Ferreira spent several weeks in a coma.
In KwaZulu-Natal, mayors and some councillors have been largely criticised for travelling in blue light convoys even when attending unofficial engagements such as funerals. Mabaso indicated that no mayor had objected to the circular.
"What has been done was in terms of the law. It was a directive, not a matter of negotiation and consultation," he said.
"We were just implementing what is enshrined in the law. The issue of utilisation of blue lights is regulated and the approval is granted by the cabinet through the MEC for transport, community safety and liaison, Willies Mchunu."