Ndebele calls for change to traffic laws

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pretoria - Dramatic changes to South Africa's law enforcement systems are needed if the country is to stem the tide of high road crashes, says Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele.

Speaking during the release of the festive season road traffic statistics, on Tuesday, Ndebele said the country's law enforcement system was so ineffective in that if left unchanged authorities will not stop counting bodies every year.

"The system involves issuing of traffic fines with an option of going to court. Our courts are already overburdened with many criminal cases and traffic offences are not prioritized by the justice system," said Ndebele.

Around 1 582 people died on South African roads between 1 December and 11 January and the majority of them were passengers who accounted for 637 deaths followed by pedestrians at 548.

Reckless and drunk driving is still the major contributor to the country's road crashes, he said.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation said the highest numbers of deaths were recorded on roads within cities and towns followed by provincial and national roads.

KwaZulu-Natal topped the list by recording 298 deaths since the start of the festive season. It was followed by Gauteng with 237 while 213 people lost their live on Eastern Capes roads. Northern Cape road users proved to be mostly behaving as the province managed to keep the death figure at 66.

Ndebele said while over the last three years authorities have seen a slight decrease in the number of road deaths as compared to the previous years, the decrease was so minimal that it could not be attributed to behavior change.

He described the behavior on the roads as not expressive of a free democratic society calling for more value to be placed on human life.

"Let us use the world cup to build a lasting legacy for the world to turn to South Africa, way beyond 2010, said Ndebele.