Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) has reiterated the need for a formalised “Blue Light Protocol” to be implemented.
This follows conflicting statements by SAPS officials in recent months regarding whether South African road users should follow the protocol.
The protocol was developed by JPSA and the Road Traffic Management Corporation in 2013 to combat the prevalence of “blue light gangs” – criminals who commit violent crimes against South African motorists by posing as police officers and getting them to pull over.
The Blue Light Protocol advises drivers to signal police to follow them and pull over in a safe, well-lit area to avoid falling victim to these crimes.
The office of the Gauteng Provincial Commissioner of SAPS released a statement today advising motorists to follow the protocol.
“This type of crime is real. Members of the public are thus urged to exercise caution and in the event that they suspect that they are being stopped by bogus cops, put on their hazards and drive to a nearby police station or even a filling station,” it said.
“Motorists should also have the SAPS 10111 number on speed dial and make the call when it is safe to do so.”
However, in December 2019, the national spokesperson for SAPS, Vish Naidoo, said that the Blue Light Protocol does not exist – despite it having been on the Arrive Alive website since November 2013.
“If police tell you to stop, you must stop,” said Naidoo. “People must stop undermining the authority of the State”.
Formalising the Blue Light Protocol
JPSA, which worked alongside the Road Traffic Management Corporation to develop the Blue Light Protocol in 2013, withdrew its endorsement of the protocol in December 2019.
This followed increasing numbers of violent attacks and threats against motorists by genuine law enforcement officials who were not abiding by the protocol, JPSA said.
A revised protocol has since been developed and was submitted to the Police Ministry by anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee for consideration; however, no feedback on this protocol has been provided by SAPS.
“I have today made contact with SAPS to request an urgent meeting with SAPS legal services officials and the Provincial Commissioner but feel this matter urgently needs to be escalated to the National Commissioner,” said Howard Dembovsky, chairperson of JPSA.
“It is very dangerous for the top brass of SAPS to advise motorists to take precautionary measures to avoid falling foul of bogus cops, while simultaneously failing to formalise the protocol so that every law enforcement official is aware of it and follows it, without resorting to violence and abuse,” he said.
This sentiment was echoed by Abramjee.
“We need this blue light protocol as a matter of urgency. Motorists are scared of stopping and one can understand why,” said Abramjee.