'Blue light driver' sentenced to five years

Thomas Ferreira was left with permanent brain damage after being hit by a VIP veheicle.

Driver Joseph Motsamai Semitjie has been sentenced to five years behind bars for knocking over teenager Thomas Ferreira more than three years ago. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Driver Joseph Motsamai Semitjie has been sentenced to five years behind bars for knocking over teenager Thomas Ferreira more than three years ago.

Last year Semitjie was found guilty of reckless and negligent driving.

He had claimed he was rushing former Gauteng MEC Humphrey Mmemezi to a meeting and had been instructed to use the official vehicle's blue lights.

Ferreira has been left with permanent brain damage and will never be able to look after himself again.

Magistrate Abdul Khan has told Semitjie this sentence must serve as an example not only to him but to all motorists and VIP official drivers who act in a reckless and negligent way.

During the trial, Semitjie argued that Mmemezi told him that he was late for an appointment and therefore he was forced to speed.

But Khan says it was still the driver's decision to skip a red traffic light and not to switch on his sirens.

Ferreira's parents sat in the front row of the public gallery and appeared relieved as soon as the sentencing was handed down.

Khan says with this sentence, VIP drivers must learn that they have not been given a license to disobey all traffic rules.