Scores of PMB drunks held

2007-12-10 00:00

On Friday night alone, 48 people were charged with drunk driving in Pietermaritzburg, bringing the number of drivers charged with drinking and driving to 104 in just seven days, since December 1.

Astounded traffic authorities are shocked at these figures, saying the festive season has barely begun.

One of the suspects comes from the ranks of the law enforcers. He is a court prosecutor and sources believe this is not his first brush with the law.

KwaZulu-Natal’s Safety and Security MEC Bheki Cele has criticised the high incidence of drinking and driving in this country, saying he is worried that the country’s laws may be too soft.

Speaking at a service to commemorate the lives of road accident victims in Mpofana (Mooi River) yesterday, Cele said in Australia they say if you drink and drive you are “a bloody idiot”.

Australian law allows for random breathalyser testing and the suspension of drivers’ licences.

Hinting at the need for stricter sanctions, Cele said he is worried about people who drink alcohol and get into their cars and kill innocent people, but are only charged with culpable homicide.

He added that the unfortunate thing about these accidents is that they kill people who are economically active. “People who drive their cars or travel in public transport are mostly working and have dependants. Another thing is that the impact of fatalities is seen on the loved ones left behind.”

The MEC warned both drivers and owners of public transport vehicles, especially the bus and taxi industry, to take responsibility for the safety of their passengers. “Just one bus or taxi crash can result in many deaths and several injuries. You have been warned, we will show no mercy to any driver or owner who breaks the law.”

According to Cele, all traffic law enforcement personnel will be on duty and a “no leave” policy applies until January 14.

His department’s theme during this festive season is, “Just do right”. This theme is based on the belief that most accidents are caused by human error and that the festive season is a period with unacceptably high levels of deviant driver behaviour, which contributes to the high levels of road carnage. Senior road traffic inspector Colin Govender said those people who persist on drinking and driving will be locked up.

“If you still flout the law and insist on drinking and driving, you will be locked up. Some motorists say they will never be caught, I want to reassure them that they will be caught, charged and will appear before a magistrate,” said Govender.

He added that drinking and driving has serious effects and the Transport Department will not tolerate the loss of innocent lives. Govender appealed to nightclubs, hotels and taverns to organise buddy buses for their patrons.

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