BLUE-LIGHT BRIGADES AND THE POLITICS OF BAD DRIVING
Keywords:VIP blue-light brigade bullying, road-traffic regulations, exemptions, criminal liability, constitutional issues
The so-called blue-light brigade “bullies” who form part of the VIP Protection Unit continue to present a formidable danger to other road users and have become the controversial focus of media attention. (The VIP units are deployed to protect persons who qualify as VIPs (“Very Important Persons”). Notably in the Western Cape, the intention has been expressed to introduce provincial legislation in an attempt to curb incidents of VIP blue-light brigade bullying. Although a Western Cape cabinet resolution was taken in November 2010 to the effect that blue lights and sirens were to be removed from provincial ministerial vehicles in the Western Cape, this decision does not have an impact on the other provinces. In the absence of specific legislation relating to the VIP units, the purpose of this article is to attempt to shed light from a criminal-law perspective, on the key issue of how far the possible “immunity” enjoyed by VIP units extends where road users are bullied for right of way or are injured or killed. Various offences will be investigated to establish under which provisions (if any) the VIP members may be held criminally accountable. This article will firstly analyse the road-traffic regulations and possible exemptions which may be applicable to VIP units. Secondly, the criminal liability of the VIP units will be examined with reference to some of the possible crimes and defences applicable. Lastly, constitutional issues in the context of blue-light brigades will be investigated.
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