Justice Project slams police abuse of blue lights after woman is dragged from her car
The Justice Project SA has withdrawn its endorsement of the “blue light protocol”, saying it is contributing to the abuse of motorists.
The blue light protocol enables motorists to move from an area should they feel unsafe after being pulled over by law enforcement officers.
The comment comes after CCTV footage of a women being manhandled by Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) officers at a petrol station went viral on Friday.
TMPD spokesperson Isaac Mahamba confirmed that TMPD officers were involved in the incident.
Mahamba said an investigation was at an advanced stage and that statements from all affected members had been obtained.
Justice Project chairperson Howard Dembovsky said the protocol was put in place to prevent criminals obtaining easy access to blue lights and other police equipment.
According to Dembovsky, “blue light gangs” have been committing violent crimes, including robbery, hijacking, kidnapping, rape and murder, for several years.
He said police had failed to tackle the problem.
“Despite this, numerous police and traffic officers are wholly insensitive to this issue and incorrectly believe that they are empowered by the law to abuse members of the public who try to protect themselves from violent crime.
“In some instances, people have been beaten up. In others, they have been shot at and even killed by overzealous law enforcement officials. This cannot go on and if, as it appears to be, the blue light protocol is contributing to this abuse, JPSA can no longer endorse it,” he said.
The National Road Traffic Act required a motorist to immediately stop for a traffic officer in uniform, but should motorists feel unsafe, they could drive to the nearest police station.
“Should it turn out that the individuals stopping a motorist are criminals posing as police, the motorist should, where possible, institute civil and criminal proceedings against the culprits and the police, the latter of whom are constitutionally obliged to protect them from criminality.
“In this case, it is our view that the officers concerned should be prosecuted for assault, since it is clear that the woman was merely trying to guard against falling victim to violent crime and was not fleeing from police,” he said.