15/11/2008 19:18 - (SA)
Durban - A policeman has been arrested for shooting out the tyre of a moving car, causing an accident in which eight people were injured.
The driver apparently had failed to move into the slower lane of the N3 near Pietermaritzburg on Saturday.
Police spokesperson Director Phindile Radebe confirmed that the officer was charged with attempted murder, and that he was part of the VIP protection team tasked with protecting KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Social Welfare MEC Meshack Radebe.
She could not immediately provide further details, but Sapa has learnt that the policeman - who is believed to have been a passenger in the black Volkswagen (VW) Golf with dark tinted windows and flashing blue lights - held the rank of constable.
Earlier, Superintendent Henry Budhram told Sapa that a black Mazda that was heading towards Durban on Saturday morning was being followed by a police collision unit vehicle when a black VW Golf with flashing blue lights sped up behind them.
Couldn't pull over
The police vehicle pulled over to allow the Golf to pass, but "at that moment the driver of the Mazda could not pull over as he was passing a truck".
It is alleged that when the Mazda had passed the truck and pulled over, a passenger in the Golf, which had dark tinted windows, wound down the window and shot out the tyre of the Mazda.
"The driver of the Mazda lost control and his vehicle went into the oncoming traffic, colliding with a bakkie in the north-bound lane," Budhram said.
He said that the Golf then sped off and when the police's collision unit vehicle could not catch up with it, the officers decided to render assistance to the injured.
Netcare 911 and ER24 reported that eight people were injured in the accident, four of whom were described as being in a serious condition.
Comment could not be immediately obtained from the driver of the Mazda, whose name is known to Sapa.
Budhram said a spent cartridge was recovered from the accident scene.
KZN transport spokesperson Nonkululeko Mbatha confirmed the incident, but could not immediately provide further details. She said that the N3 was closed to traffic for about an hour.
'Blue light bullies'
The KZN Democratic Alliance has condemned the incident and called on the police to investigate.
"This incident is the worst display to date of the attitude that these blue light bullies are law unto themselves... treat citizens with disregard," said DA spokesperson, Randley Keys.
In May, an angry motorcyclist punched a KwaZulu-Natal provincial VIP driver after the VIP driver had crashed into the back of another car, seriously injuring its occupant on the N3 near Camperdown.
In April 2007 the Witness newspaper reported that its switchboard was flooded with calls from motorists who said they were pushed off the N3 by a blue-light convoy, identified as being that of ANC president Jacob Zuma.
The paper also reported at the time that a Pietermaritzburg man, Faizel Mooideen, had a rifle pointed at him and his family by security officers who tried to push them off a lane on the highway.
At the end of the same month a motorist used his cellphone to provide the newspaper with video footage of KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sbu Ndebele's convoy doing 160km an hour on the N3.