Reed dance bus driver was ‘drunk, had no driving permit’

2014-09-08 09:06

A bus driver was arrested for allegedly being drunk behind the wheel while transporting maidens from the annual reed dance in Nyokeni, KwaNongoma, KwaZulu-Natal.

“The bus driver was caught as traffic police were conducting an operation which was ordered by MEC [Willies] Mchunu as part of intensifying enforcement to vehicles transporting maidens,” the provincial department said yesterday.

The Road Traffic Inspectorate confirmed that the bus driver was over the legal limit when caught, and had no professional driving permit.

The driver was taken to Benedictine hospital for more blood tests, then driven back to Nyokeni by a traffic officer.

Mchunu, the transport MEC, applauded the Road Traffic Inspectorate for their excellent work.

“The arrest of this bus driver will send a clear message that as government we are serious about rooting out all elements that put the lives of maidens and other road users at risk during the annual reed dance.”

All those who undermined traffic rules would not be tolerated on the roads.

“Since Thursday, I have ordered intense operations in all roads leading to the eNyokeni Royal Palace,” Mchunu said.

More than 94 buses were stopped on Saturday as part of the operations and those found to be faulty were taken off the road.

Last year 10 people were killed in a bus crash after the reed dance.

Thousands of young maidens attired in traditional Zulu gear attended the annual ceremony known as uMkhosi Womhlanga.

The centuries-old tradition represents an important rite of passage for the young women, who participate in traditional singing and dancing, and learn about their culture.

The reed dance promotes celibacy until marriage and teaches the girls, who have to be virgins to participate, respect for their bodies.

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