Media Statement by the national Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters on the occasion to release preliminary Easter 2016 Road Safety Report
29 March 2016 Pretoria
Deputy Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga MEC Butana Komphela
MEC Mapula Mokaba-Phukwana DG of the Department, Pule Selepe
RTMC Chairman, Zola Majavu and Board Members Present
RTMC CEO, Advocate Makhosini Msibi and CEOs from other entities Senior managers
Ladies and gentlemen Good Morning,
Allow me to quote from the wise words of our icon, Nelson Mandela as he once retorted:
“Change is as unsettling as it is painful. It cannot be any different because change is movement… At times of momentous developments, when societies reach their high noon, everything else becomes uncertain except for the golden gate that must be reached – the goal of freedom.”
This year’s Easter period was unique in so many ways and was characterised by so many complicated and complex variables. We remained vigilant and recognised this challenging phenomenon right from the beginning, that it was not going to be easy this time around on our roads.
In South Africa, the Easter travel patterns are generally influenced by high traffic movement to places of worship, with Moria in Limpopo being the key place of pilgrimage. However this year’s Easter period had a number of peculiarities.
Firstlly, the Easter period was preceded by a long weekend which meant that there was only three working days before Easter Friday.
Secondly and understandably so, many people took leave on the three days because of the month end, encouraged by the need to travel for holidays. Thirdly, it was also a period in which schools had taken their first term break.
Lastly, there were many planned religious, cultural and mass sport events which encouraged travelling. Key among these events that took place during the period included the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town, the Klein Karoo Festival in Oudtshoorn, the Underberg Splashy Fen in KwaZulu Natal midlands, the Rand Easter Show in Soweto and the Joyous Celebration concert in Brakpan.
With this in mind we strategically and deliberately went out on our intensified and heightened Easter activations, road safety education and law enforcement operations much earlier than usual. We began activating our plans as early as March 11, specifically focussing on promoting roadworthiness among public transport vehicles. We emphasised and ensured that all vehicles, busses and taxis that would be undertaking long distance journeys would have to be tested for roadworthy prior to undertaking such trips.
Together with our partners, the youth and people living with disabilities we undertook rigorous public education campaigns to raise awareness about road safety. We used the first long weekend (19th to 21st March) as a trial run to test the resilience and sustainability of our plans. As a result we found that in the week leading up to the start of the Easter (21st to 23rd March 2016), the number of fatalities on the roads had decreased dramatically to 45 deaths compared to 121 of the same period last year.
When Easter period came we were more prepared and extra resilient. We had held prayer sessions, mobilised the community and our traffic law enforcement fraternity were more ready and prepared. The instruction to the law enforcement officers was simple, loud and very clear. Zero tolerance and no mercy for traffic violations on the road.
We are emboldened to declare that today is better than yesterday and we are confident that, with these concerted efforts, tomorrow will be much better than today.
We are certain that we have entered a period which the Tswana- speaking people call Mahube a naka tsa kgomo – the early dawn, when only the tips of the horns of the cattle can be seen early in the morning when it is still dark.
We are so perturbed to notice a new phenomenon and a very disturbing tendency for some motorists who drive and use vehicles without registration numbers. This is a deliberate ploy to avoid detection for traffic violations and to undermine our law enforcement efforts. Our instruction to law enforcement officers is that those individuals found perpetrating this particular offense should not be allowed to get away with a traffic fine only. The vehicle must be impounded and the owner forced to make alternative transport arrangements.
We are seriously concerned about the recalcitrant behaviour of our drivers who willy nilly takes the lives of our law enforcers who dedicated their lives to our road users and follow the dictates of the oath they took when they assumed their profession.
During the period under review we unnecessarily lost the lives of our two law enforcers, killed by reckless drivers who do not value life. MAY THEIR SOULS REST IN PEACE.
It is very concerning that some unwarranted behaviours continued unabated and this has been ably demonstrated by the succesful arrests of 913 for drunken driving and 502 who were caught speeding. In the Western Cape, a driver was arrested with mandrax and dagga, in Limpopo a driver arrested with ilicit cigarettes, and while in Gauteng we recovered three hijacked vehicles linked to various serious crimes. The highest speed recorded was in KZN travelling at 227 km/hour whilst in Gauteng the recorded speed was 206 km/hour. In the built up area, the highest speed recorded was 173 km/hour, and the suspect was detained in Langlaagte.
We urge celebrities and role models to behave in an examplery manner. We have however been encouraged by the behaviour of the majority of motorists and all road users, who showed a willingness to obey the rules of the road. There are few who are still intransigent and many of them will be appearing in different courts all over the country today.
The report we are presenting this morning is preliminary and statistics will be compared to the report released last year. This report entails figures from Thursday March 24 to Monday March 28, 2016.
The report indicates that there were 156 fatalities on the roads this year compared to 287 fatalities for the same period last year. This represents a much welcomed 46% decline.
With the exception of the Northern Cape, which recorded the same number of fatalities as last year, all other provinces recorded a decrease in the number of fatalities. Notably, the North West recorded the highest decrease of 71% with number of fatalities reduced from 28 to 8. They were followed by the Free State with a decrease of 52%, fatalities reduced from 23 to 11. KwaZulu Natal experienced a drop of 49% with fatalities reduced from 55 to 28.
This sharp decline was achieved in spite of an increase in the number of registered vehicles in the country by 333 226 (3%). The total number of registered vehicles in February 2016 stood at 11.7 million.
On behalf of the Government of South Africa, I would like to send our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the deceased and also to wish those who were injured a speedy recovery. While we welcome the reduction in fatalities this Easter, we do however believe that we still have a long way to go. A big milestone reached but our task is not done yet. For as long as there are people dying on the roads, our work must and will continue.
We commend the MECs, Mayors, SALGA and the traffic law enforcement officers who maintained high levels of visibility on the roads throughout the Easter period. We abhore in strongest terms those in uniform who were caught soliciting bribes and issuing fraudulent drivers licence. I also wish to commend the RTMC’s National Anti-corruption Unit for their efforts in dealing with bribery, fraud and corruption. Two traffic officers were arrested in Gauteng and Mpumalanga on allegations of soliciting bribes and corruption while another was reported in the Western Cape.
However, I want to see more results from this unit in dealing with the corruption and fraud committed at Driver Learner Testing Centres (DLTCs). For us to restore public confidence in our system, we must also clean up these DLTCs and ensure they operate in an efficient and effective manner.
We have heard complaints from the community and driving school operators. The media has also reported about numerous shenanigans at these centres.
We also commend the SABC, especially Chriselda Lewis, for their undercover work in continuing to expose the rot in this fraternity.
Now is the time to act and bring to book those responsible. I would like to see convictions at provincial and municipal levels as well, where employers take disciplinary action against everyone implicated. We have to close the loop and crack down on these illegal activities within our system.
A word of gratitude also goes out to all the fraternal organisations that assisted in making this huge success possible. This includes the youth, faith-based organisations and organisations of people living with disabilities, who undertook various campaigns to raise awareness about road safety across the Country. We are grateful to religious leaders who used their pulpits to Preach and Pray about road safety.
Let me also thank the media for their role in promoting and publicising our road safety initiatives, and ensuring that everyone in the country is aware of their responsibility. We look forward to a continued and improved relationship to ensure that we reduce the number of fatalities even further. Though the figures indicate that we have turned the tide, and as a result we may have the urge to celebrate this achievement, but I must hasten to indicate that, we dare not put the foot off the pedal and rest on our laurels. We must press-on even harder and maintain the good work we are doing, until the day when every single life on our roads will be safe.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me conclude with a quote from Dwight L. Moody, when he says:
“We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won't need to tell anybody it does.
Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their shining - they just shine.”
We will go to every length, breadth and platform, and shall stop at nothing until every single soul on our roads is safe. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that our roads are safe and rid ourselves of those who are deliberately breaking the law. I strongly and sincerely believe that we can avoid these senseless carnages and killings on our roads, as accidents are indeed preventable. We are humbled and wish to thank each and every road user, drivers, passengers, pedestrians and the general public that heeded our clarion call. This evidences the positive trajectory that we on the right track to proudly join the family of nations in achieving and celebrating the 50% reduction in crashes as espoused in the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety.
I THANK YOU
Issued by the Department of Transport, 29 March 2016