Johannesburg - One would have thought that drivers of high-performance cars – or “vrrr phas”, as Transport Minister Dipuo Peters calls them – would behave on the roads this festive season. But it seems the zero-tolerance message failed to reach some speedsters.
While the department of transport prepares to release the statistics for this festive season’s road death toll, at least 15 motorists have been arrested for exceeding the speed limit in various parts of the country between December 19 and January 2.
The highest speed clocked was 239km/h on the R21 in Gauteng on Boxing Day.
Most of the speedsters were caught on the busy national highways: the N1 near Winburg and N3 near Harrismith in the Free State, the N2 South in KwaZulu-Natal and the N4 near Bronkhorstspruit in Gauteng. These are the same roads where a high number of fatal crashes have been reported in the past few weeks.
Many of these drivers were released on bail with the highest bail amount, R40 000, granted to Sthembiso Ntombela from KwaZulu-Natal.
Ntombela, a 28-year-old engineer from Umtentweni on the South Coast, was caught driving a Mercedes Benz C63 at 223 km/h on the N2 South near Ifafa on December 16. He was arrested immediately and appeared in the Hibberdene Magistrate’s Court where his licence was suspended for 12 months. He was also fined R40 000 by the court.
Another 24-year-old motorist from the Bluff in Durban was caught speeding on the N2 south in a Golf 6 GTi a few days ago. He clocked 224 km/h in 120 km/h zone.
The man was detained briefly by Scottburgh police on Monday before being released on R5 000 bail. He appeared at the Scottburgh Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday morning.
Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) expressed dismay about the reckless driving by the some drivers of high performance cars.
Spokesperson Simon Zwane said: “This conduct is another demonstration of the kind of attitude, selfish and irresponsible behaviour that is undermining all efforts to promote safety on the roads and save lives. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for transport, community safety and liaison, Mxolisi Kaunda also expressed concern about the rate at which people continue to speed.
He said 49 drivers were caught far exceeding the speed limit during the festive season with the highest clocking 224km/h.
“These statistics are a cause for serious concern. We are extremely disturbed by some motorists’ propensity to short-circuit the route to their graves,” Kaunda said.
While the two South Coast drivers have been slapped with heavy fines, the RTMC is not entirely satisfied with the punishment.
In Ntombela’s case, Zwane said a R40 000 fine and temporary licence suspension was simply not enough.
“While we accept the R40 000 fine imposed on Ntombela, we feel that the suspension of his driver’s license was lenient. Our view is that the fine should have been accompanied by the cancellation of the license to show that the flagrant disregard for the law will not be tolerated,” he said.
About the 24-year-old from the Bluff, Zwane said he should have had his license revoked as well.
“Excessive speed and reckless and negligent driving are major factors behind the high number of road deaths in South Africa,” he said