How to stay safe this festive season

Monday, December 11, 2017

The festive season is usually filled with joy and celebration - but for some it can also be a sad time given the number of road accidents and other tragic things that can unfortunately happen at this time of year.

Everyone is in a hurry to wrap up at the office and head for that trip with family and friends. This time also means that the roads are busier than usual.

But, police are warning that with the festive season already in full swing, there will be zero tolerance for those jeopardizing road safety. Transport Minister, Joe Masangwanyi, also warned during the recent launch of the safer festive campaign, that his department will not tolerate any lawlessness on the roads.

“A lot of accidents on our roads are caused by human behaviour and if we can deal with this, then we can reduce road carnage,” the minister noted.

His comments come as the police disclosed that an assortment of firearms and drugs have been seized throughout the country since the start of December in an effort to clean the streets of South Africa. Among the top successes was the arrest of four men, one of whom is a policeman, following an intelligence-led operation on the ongoing probe into murders at a notorious Kwazulu-Natal hostel.

“Police are hard at work this festive season to ensure the safety of our people. I call upon community members to continue working with the Police in fighting crime. South Africans must enjoy the festive season peacefully,” says Police Minister Fikile Mbalula.

Although crime incidents seem to spike during the festive season, it’s the never-ending carnage on the roads that seems to be deeply concerning for authorities.

More than 1 700 deaths were recorded on South African roads over the 2016/17 festive season and that figure was up by 5% compared to the previous festive season. 

The Transport Minister is now pleading for a behavioral change.

To achieve this change, says Minister Masangwayi, everyone must play their part and realise that road safety is everybody’s responsibility.

The first step would be ensuring your car is safe and road worthy. A pre-trip inspection is essential to ensure that all is above board before you embark on a road trip. A few basic things can make all the difference:

  • Check your tyres and lights, replace old wipers and carry your license at all times. Don’t drink and drive
  • Don’t text and drive
  • Reduce your speed
  • Buckle up
  • Beware of pedestrians.
  • Rest every few hours when travelling long distance

The Transport Department believes that these are just a few simple steps that can cause a dent in the staggering road fatalities that engulf South Africa every festive season.  In the past three years, the number of people who died on South Africa’s roads increased from 1587 in 2014/2015 to more than 2000 deaths in the 2016/2017 financial year.

What is also concerning is the fact that, the majority of those who perish on South Africa’s roads is the youth aged between 20 and 34.

Statistics also glaringly show that some provinces in the country are more dangerous to drive in than others.

The Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga are the biggest culprits for road carnage and accounted for 73% of all fatalities in 2016.

The Department of Transport is beefing up its strategies to ensure high visibility of law enforcement authorities on the roads. Motorists can expect to see uniformed officials, in clearly marked cars at several strategic intersections. A number of roadblocks and stop-and-search operations can be expected.

“The common practice of hiding officers or vehicles to apprehend traffic offenders is counter-productive and antagonises citizens that are normally law-abiding. The challenging situation we are faced with, calls upon us to make a fundamental shift and start doing things differently this year,” said Minister Maswanganyi.

Health officials stand ready to assist

While road safety may make up a large chunk of the festive season focus, the campaign is a multipronged approach that includes different government departments and stakeholders. With the increase in accidents, hospital staff find their hands full during this time of year, making the Health Department a critical component of the festive season campaign.

The adoption of more community-based approaches saw government, in partnership with the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO), and the Department of Health launch a campaign known as Hlokomela-Phila.

The initiative seeks to intensify health and wellness within the taxi industry wherein operators, drivers, commuters, hawkers and many other key players will be offered HIV Testing services, screening for TB and non-communicable diseases. Taxi operators and commuters will now be able to test for diabetes and hypertension throughout taxi ranks and transport hubs around the country.

Stay within your budget

Now that you have checked your car’s roadworthiness, buckled up and are ready to go, there comes the excitement of spending money on all those nice holiday goodies.

Consumers have once again been urged to be wise and avoid overspending. The best strategy is to set a budget and stick to it, advises the Economic Development Department. To help you stay on course, consider the following few tips:

  • Try to pay cash or with debit cards when purchasing items - buying on credit could mean that the initial saving on the sale price is paid for twice due to high interest rates
  • Shop Smart and Save - by shopping around and visiting price comparison websites, consumers will ensure that they get a good deal
  • Remember the “RRR”- you have the same right to repair, replace and refund of defective and unsafe goods purchased online as of that purchased in a store
  • By using your bonus/13th cheque to pay off small debts, your credit cards or towards your home loan, will not only reduce the interest payable but also the term of the debt, e.g. paying extra into your home loan each month or paying lump sums every time you have extra cash will reduce the 20-year term
  • Consumers should make provisions for unforeseen circumstances;


Keep your money safe

 And while you out shopping, remember to be vigilant and bank safely.

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRI) has warned that criminals are always looking for opportunities to defraud their victims, particularly at this time of year when they know that people are winding down for the holidays.

SABRI advises that you keep your credentials confidential and bank safely by following these steps:

  • Verify all requests for personal information and only provide it when there is a legitimate reason to do so.
  • Don't use any Personal Identifiable Information (PII) as a password, user ID or personal identification number (PIN).
  • Keep PIN numbers and passwords confidential.
  • Don’t carry unnecessary personal information in your wallet or purse.
  • Change your password regularly and never share these with anyone else.
  • Store personal and financial documentation safely. Always lock these away.
  • To prevent your ID being used to commit fraud if it is ever lost or stolen, alert the SA Fraud Prevention Service immediately on 0860 101 248 or at –





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