Motorists who drive drunk must be locked up - Mbalula

2019-12-29 10:53
Fikile Mbalula (Simphiwe Nkwali, Gallo Images)

Fikile Mbalula (Simphiwe Nkwali, Gallo Images)

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Motorists who intend driving drunk have been warned: Transport minister Fikile Mbalula wants to change the law to ensure it bites going forward.

"It can't be business as usual. Drunken-driving, it's a mess. It causes carnage. Over and above tiredness and unroadworthy vehicles, but drunken driving is a mess for our country and I intend to clamp down heavily in terms of the law. I want to put them in jail for drinking and driving. I want them to be locked up," the minister said in an interview with news broadcaster eNCA. 

The minister has been conducting a number of interviews with news broadcasters as the festive season starts to wind down. 

He told SABC news that while road safety is improving, even one death is too many. 

"The attitude has been different and the statistics tell us a different story: It means our message has been going through and people are responding well," the minister said during an interview with SABC News on Saturday. 

Nevertheless, he added: "There are culprits who are persistent in doing things like drinking and driving… Losing one life is too many."

He said that the fatal mix of alcohol and irresponsible driving remained the most serious problem. 

Also of key concern was the use of unroadworthy vehicles - found particularly to be crossing to and fro from the Beitbridge border post.

In addition, he said it was worrying that a large number of road fatalities were that of drunk pedestrians.

Fatalities down

He said that compared to this period last year, the number of fatalities appeared significantly reduced – although the final statistics would only be released on January 23.

"We are blessed that up until now, we have not witnessed a major fatality [involving many people] on the roads," he told the broadcaster.

Mbalula said that in the build-up to New Year's Eve, roadblocks, random alcohol testing and high police visibility, especially on major highways could be expected.

Furthermore, he added, the Aarto system of demerits would come into play by June next year.

SEE | Here's why there's no need to panic about Aarto

The controversial Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Bill (Aarto) is set to establish a points system for road users based on traffic offenses. 

Meanwhile earlier this week, Mbalula, who dubs himself "Mr Fix" on Twitter, posted a video of his offering further advice on correct road behaviour.

"As we reunite with our families and enjoy each other’s company, let us continue using our roads responsibly: Be reminded - do not drink and drive; do not use cellphones while driving; do not speed and do use safety belts," he said in the social media post.

In addition he urged pedestrians to cross at designated points and for all road users to be aware of stray animals.

Last week, Mbalula presented the mid-festive season road death statistics - revealing that they were down by 25% in comparison to last year, reported News24.

Speaking on December 23, Mbalula says 589 people had lost their lives on South Africa’s roads so far this festive season.  

Last year, 839 had died by this point. 

"A total of 489 fatal crashes have been recorded, which is a 25% decrease compared to 656 fatal crashes recorded over the same period last year," he said at the time.

"The majority of those who died were pedestrians at 39%, followed by passengers at 34%, drivers at 26%, and cyclists at 1%."

According to Road Traffic Management Corporation's National Road Safety Strategy 2016 - 2030, vehicle factors make up 14.1% of fatal collisions, while human factors account for 73.6% of fatalities on the roads. The road environment accounts for 12.3%.

The RTMC's State of Road Safety Report: Calendar for 2018 found that minibuses accounted for 9% of crashes, and most collisions happened on Saturdays (25%) and Sundays (22%).

- compiled by Mirah Langer 

Read more on:    fikile mbalula  |  accidents

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