Call for harsher road laws

2008-03-11 00:00

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport and Community Safety Liaison, Bheki Cele, has called for harsher laws on South African roads. Speaking at the Easter Road Safety Plan Campaign Launch in Cato Ridge, Cele said the death of 30 people in a space of three hours on KZN roads last Monday made manifest the urgency to implement harsher laws. "Laws are too soft for the carnage on the roads," he said.

Among the laws that Cele said should be implemented immediately is the "demerit system", and he expressed the hope that it will be implemented in this financial year. He said most motorists would lose their licences because they are guilty of talking on their cellphones while driving. Cele said most accidents are caused by speeding, drinking, fatigue and unroadworthy vehicles.

In his impassioned speech, he urged all stakeholders to carry a message of road safety to their communities. "It must start with individuals; each person can say for everybody that dies on the road, ‘I am not part of it’." He said most people who are killed on the roads contribute to the economy of the country.

"We are a dying nation. Road accidents kill economically active people, people who have just graduated … and have bought new cars or people on public transport going to work."

He said ordinary people’s deaths do not receive as much attention as celebrity deaths do. "Why don’t ordinary people’s lives lost on the road speak to our consciences; why does it have to be celebrities or prominent people?"

A total of 300 vehicles were stopped at the Cato Ridge road block during the campaign launch. Thirty motorists were prosecuted for various road offences.

One vehicle was suspended from the road and one was impounded. Transport Department spokeswoman Zinhle Mngomezulu said the impounded vehicle was unlicensed. A VW Golf was unlicensed. Its licence disc had expired on October 31, 2007.

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