LIMPOPO Transport Safety and Security MEC Mapula Mokaba-Phukwana has warned delinquent motorists and road “criminals” that they face the full might of the law if they don’t change their behaviour.
She says it can’t be business as usual when road fatalities continue to increase on the country’s roads.
Mokaba-Phukwana raised her concern in a keynote address during the annual Youth Road Safety Summit in Polokwane at the weekend.
Held under the theme “Being Safe is Cool”, the summit came as nine Wits University students returning from a ZCC prayer meeting in Moletji perished when their taxi crashed onto an overturned trailer of a truck on the N1 between Mokopane and Mookgophong on Sunday.
Most of the deceased were burnt beyond recognition.
“First and foremost, we want to change bad behaviour on our roads. To achieve [the] reduction of carnages on the roads, we need to lament [the] violation of traffic rules,” Mokaba-Phukwana said.
“Research has confirmed that 90% of road deaths are as a result of blatantly disobedience the laws of the road. Refusing to comply with traffic laws is a criminal offense and perpetrators should face the full might of law. And, it should be noted that ignorance of the law is not an excuse, but plain criminality.”
The MEC said driving under the influence of alcohol; unroadworthy vehicles; overloading and reckless driving were some of the major causes of road deaths.
“The abuse of alcohol by both drivers and pedestrians, followed by dangerous overtaking that is taking place in the face of the traffic is lamentable. Vehicle fitness also contributes because ineffective steering and brakes especially on public parsonages and failed transport. But also pedestrians who just cross the roads willy-nilly,” she noted.
Mokaba-Phukwana says the government has set a target of halving road carnages by 2020.
The two-day summit aimed to mobilise the youth to participate in the department’s road safety programmes, she added.
Thandi Moya, the National Department of Transport’s national director of road transport, said the country lost between 14 000 to 15 000 lives annually with 50% of them being pedestrians.
She said: “Statistics confirm that the majority of people who die on our roads are youth. As transport sector, we are deeply concerned. And our main objective is to ensure road safety and curb fatalities on the road we will continue to preach the gospel of safe driving.”
Meanwhile the Zion Christian Church (ZCC), which lost seven of its members to the horror accident, has conveyed its condolences to their families. The survivors have been transferred to hospitals in Johannesburg.
“The ZCC headquarters dispatched a team of priests and administrators to accompany the four students who were transferred from Limpopo hospitals to Gauteng hospitals yesterday. Meanwhile, priests from the ZCC headquarters will visit families of all the deceased to offer spiritual counselling and support,” said ZCC deputy secretary general Evans Motabane in a statement.
Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane added: “This is a tragic loss to the nation as a whole, not just to Wits University and the ZCC only. May their souls rest in peace.”
The ZCC also thanked the Limpopo and Gauteng departments of health, the National Department of Transport and Wits University for their handling of the accident.