NEW STRATEGY NEEDED: South Africa has an horrendous death toll and a culture of drunk driving. Nicro aims to rehabilitate offenders. Image: iStock
Cape Town - The holiday season is upon us and the Western Cape is already reporting a higher death toll for the first two weeks of December 2015 compared to the same period in 2014.
A total of 58 road deaths has been recorded in the first 14 days of the festive season, according to the Western Cape transport department.
What's being done to curb road deaths and rehabilitate traffic offenders?
Rehabilitating drunk drivers
The South African National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro), the 105-year old organisation responsible for rehabilitating criminals, gave Wheels24 some insight on driving under the influence.
Read: Global road deaths: How does SA compare?
We interviewed Soraya Solomon, Nicro CEO, and Arina Smit, Nicro clinical unit manager. The pair told us about the organisation's Road Offence Panel programme (ROPP).
Solomon says: "Nicro deals with all issues relating to crime and the basic aim of the organisation is to reduce the levels of crime in South Africa.”
Smit says: "The ROPP was established in about 2010/2011 and originated by working in courts and seeing the need arising for people to be placed in interventions, particularly for people that use our roads; It's for those who don’t behave themselves on the road – the dunk drivers, people who drive too fast...
Read: SA is world's worst drunk-driving country
"We started a programme that accommodates people who have committed road offenses to work on their attitudes and behaviour in regards to driving and using the roads in a safer way.
Watch: How does Nicro rehabilitate drunk drivers in SA?
Can you Nicro help you stay out of jail?
Solomon says: “The ROPP has two different levels - one as an alternative sentencing option which means you don’t go to jail. Most of them are also diverted and they don’t get a criminal record. So we call it adult diversion. If you have to go to jail, you go to jail but if you don’t there are two alternatives."
The court can decide how severe the offence is. If the offense is sever the person may get a criminal record as an alternative sentencing option you are then told to go to a Nicro programme.
Read: No.1 killer in Gauteng revealed...
“Most are adult diversion where the adults do not get a criminal record where the adults get a chance to change their behaviour. And that’s the main aim of the programme is to really focus on changing behaviour.
WATCH: Drunk driving culture in SA
Smit says: "A big part of the programme focuses on what it means to be a safe road user."
Solomon adds: “I think in South Africa there isn’t respect for the law in general, especially among people driving on our roads.
“People don’t think twice about drinking two glasses or five glasses of wine or any type of alcoholic drink and getting behind the wheel. You're not thinking that you can kill yourself or other people on the road.”