28 died in accidents during the Easter weekend, while 719 arrested for traffic violations

2020-04-17 16:06
Police at a roadblock in Khayelitsha. (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)

Police at a roadblock in Khayelitsha. (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)

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Despite there being a dramatic drop in the number of vehicles on the road during this year's Easter weekend, there were still 28 road fatalities, which mainly involved pedestrians. 

There were also a number of arrests at roadblocks this year. 

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said Mpumalanga recorded the most road fatalities over the Easter weekend, with seven deaths.

There were six deaths in KwaZulu-Natal and five in the Eastern Cape. Gauteng, Western Cape and North West each had three deaths, while Limpopo recorded one death. No incidents were recorded in the Free State and the Northern Province.  

Overall, there were 26 fatal crashes recorded, which resulted in 28 fatalities.  Most crashes involved pedestrians and single vehicles overturned, Mbalula said.

This is in contrast with the 128 crashes recorded over the same period in 2019, claiming 162 lives. In 2018, the department registered 309 road deaths.

The drop has mainly been attributed to fact that there were fewer vehicles on the country's roads due to the lockdown, which was implemented by President Cyril Ramaphosa to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Roadblocks

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said 719 people were arrested for violating traffic laws at 480 roadblocks manned nationwide. A total of 104 140 vehicles were stopped and checked, with 236 vehicles impounded and 171 vehicles found to be unroadworthy.  

This is compared to, over the same period in 2019, the number of arrests for violation of road traffic laws being 1 343, with 141 roadblocks. 

During that period, the number of vehicles that were impounded wer 1 055, while while vehicles discontinued for unroadworthiness was 702. 

"In addition to enforcing road traffic laws, authorities had to enforce the lockdown regulations.  As a consequence, 184 vehicles were stopped and ordered to return home for travelling in contravention of the regulations," Mbalula said.  

Reduced traffic

Mbalula said the reduction in traffic volumes also had a corresponding effect on the number of traffic violations.  

"The number of drivers arrested for drunken driving was 11, while the number of drivers caught speeding stood at one.  This is in sharp contrast with 807 arrested for drunken driving (in 2019).

"However, any attempt to compare year-on-year figures will be an exercise in futility as the material conditions this Easter are fundamentally different from a normal period where traffic is able to move freely," said Mbalula.


Lockdown

"The 2020 Easter period was extraordinary as there was limited movement. Despite the lockdown, there were those allowed to travel," Mbalula said.  

As for the movement of minibus taxis, he said law enforcement agencies had flagged a critical challenge - once taxis complete their morning run between 05:00 to 10:00, the drivers park at the rank and it results in a mass gathering, which is prohibited.  

"These taxis should be parked at places where they ordinarily park overnight, and drivers should return to their homes to avoid indirect gatherings.  We will attend to this matter immediately. 

"Our law enforcement efforts will continue to enforce the lockdown rules and ensure compliance by all road users. Enforcement of the rule of the road will continue in earnest in order to maintain law and order on our roads," Mbalula said.

Taxi driver arrested in front of Mbalula

After addressing the media, Mbalula spearheaded a joint-roadblock, where a taxi driver was arrested for driving an unroadworthy vehicle.

When seeing traffic officers at the roadblock, the driver jumped out of the vehicle and fled on foot.

Officers gave chase and, minutes later, the taxi driver was caught and handcuffed.

Mbalula said he was shocked at the condition of the taxi, and that the vehicle's licence disc had expired in 2018. The driver also didn't possess a driver's licence. Mbalula called for the driver to be brought to book.

The taxi was impounded and the owner was expected to face charges of contravening lockdown regulations.

Another driver of a black BMW X5 SUV was also arrested for not having the relevant permit to be on the road during lockdown. He also did not have a driver's licence. 

Read more on:    fikile mbalula  |  coronavirus  |  accidents  |  lockdown
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