It’s late, it’s dark, and there’s nobody else on the road. You’re in a lonely area. Suddenly you see blue and red lights flashing and hear the blip of a police car siren. Are they rushing past? Are they signalling you? Are they pretending to be the police? What do you do?
“Vehicles displaying a red or blue light (or a combination thereof), have absolute right of way”, reports MiWay, “when it’s safe to do so.”
That said, it continues that “National Road Traffic Act requires a motorist to immediately stop for a traffic officer in uniform.”
The thing is, things can get out of hand and it may not be safe to stop immediately. Hijackers could be dressed as police. Police could mistake a compliant citizen for a criminal. A recent video of a tense exchange in one such situation prompted Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) to withdraw its support for the “Blue Light Protocol”. There are plans to redraft it.
VOC FM reports that Blue Light Protocol was a joint effort developed by JPSA and the Road Traffic Management Corporation in 2013. It attempted to combat the prevalence of “blue light gangs” – criminals pretending to be police in order to committing crimes against motorists.
In February 2020, MyBroadband reported that, “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”.
MyBroadband further explains that “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.”
In accordance with the protocol “that does not exist”, a motorist being signalled by a police vehicle would:
If being signalled to pull over by a branded police or traffic police vehicle, a driver would:
As long as you follow the law first, these extra moves do not violate the National Road Traffic Act or the Blue Light Protocol:
Remember: always keep calm. The authorities are under immense pressure and a roadblock or random check can be very stressful for drivers and passengers alike. To limit emotional outbursts or miscommunication, try to speak clearly and kindly. Answer all questions promptly. Do not resist, use force or aggression. Respect goes a long way to protecting everybody in a tense situation.