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SA road carnage: ‘More than lip service needed’

2014-08-18 09:10

PLAN TO IMPROVE SA’S ROADS: Transport minister Dipuo Peters says South Africa’s road fatalities are unacceptable and that the department would embark on improving road conditions and safety. Image Department of Transport

CAPE TOWN - On August 13 2014, Wheels24 reported that National transport minister Dipuo Peters said it was important to make South African roads safer to reduce carnage.

In a speech at the third Africa Road Safety Seminar in Cape Town, Peters said the department's commitment to road safety included R580-million for administration and enforcement of road traffic legislation, over the period 2014/15 to 2016/17.

In response to Peters’ statement, Donald Grant, Western Cape minister of transport and public works, believes that she had “missed an opportunity to tackle child road safety head-on”.

'WORDS NOT BACKED UP'
 
Grant said: “National minister of transport, Dipuo Peters, gave a speech outlining the national government’s plans to develop a safe and effective public transport system and greatly improve South Africa’s road network. She also reported that a draft of a new Scholar Transport policy for South Africa will soon be available.
 
“The Minister must be commended for her passion about protecting children, but unfortunately her words are not being backed up with sufficient action, especially in the short and medium term. The safe and effective public transport network, the improved roads, and the new policy she described will help bring down road deaths, but only over a very long period of time, and will by no means address the issue holistically.”
 
Grant stated that one of the biggest issues affecting Africa’s children, particularly those who live in poor communities, is the alarming rate at “which they are being run down in the street by drivers, most of whom were driving too fast.

3000 CHILDREN KILLED ANNUALLY

Grant said: “The most accurate figures for South Africa indicate that nearly 3000 children are killed on the roads annually, and the vast majority of them are pedestrians (NIMS 2012). In the Western Cape, our mortuary data indicates that in 2013, 66% of the 191 children killed on the roads were run over. Nearly all of these dead children were from poor, historically disadvantaged communities.
 
“The Minister can show that she cares about the lives of poor children by using her position within the Justice Cluster to pressure SAPS to prioritise road traffic violations, particularly where children are killed. Never again do we want to hear about another Lwandile Tongo, whose killer, having run this little 11-year-old boy down in the street while driving too fast and under the influence of alcohol, was simply allowed by SAPS to walk away.
 
“The Minister can, furthermore, use her position to lobby for effective mandatory sentencing guidelines for serious road traffic offences, notably in cases where people are killed, especially children. While the killer of 18-year-old Courtney Moore has yet to be sentenced, we suspect that he, like many other speedsters before him, will walk away with the gentlest of slaps on the wrist.”

'NOT YET RISEN TO THIS CHALLENGE'

Grant also called on Peters to join the fight to end the deaths of nearly 3000 children being killed on SA’s roads:

He said: “Minister Peters has the opportunity to lead from the front against the scourge that is killing at least 17 000 people annually, nearly 3000 of them our children. This will require more than lip service to road safety with her recent speech indicating that she has not yet risen to this challenge. I sincerely hope she does, and soon, as South Africa’s children are paying a very high price indeed.”

Do you agree/disagree with Grant's statements? Email us and we'll publish your thoughts on Wheels24.

Wheels24 reader responses:
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