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Crime and corruption: SA road users in peril

2014-06-09 13:06

THE NORM IN SA: Crime and crashes are an all-too-common reality on South Africa’s roads. Image: Wheels24/Marcel Trout

JOHANNESBURG - Road safety organisation, Arrive Alive, reports the most crimes affecting road users ranging from hijacking  to a new trend of “bike-jacking”.

Arrive Alive reports: “We share a country with a colourful history having overcome rather significant and unique challenges.

"However proudly South African we may be, we have to admit that we face serious challenges to safety daily at our homes, places of work and on the roads. It is not only the irresponsible road user giving a lift to the shady hitchhiker who is at risk, but each and every responsible driver, passenger, biker or cyclist!”

Crimes such as theft and destruction of property have a drastic affect on road conditions. Thieves often steal cables resulting in reduced visibility and endangering the lives of drivers and pedestrians, this can also affect traffic lights. SAPS reports that the theft of crash barriers and man-hole covers, sold as scrap metal, endangers road users as well.
Fence posts stolen in rural areas allow animals to enter roads.

Another horrifying statistic in SA are crashes related to smashing into obstructions deliberately placed in the path of drivers by opportunistic thieves. Authorities also report that stones are thrown from cross-over bridges to cause crashes and leave “victims defenceless”.
Arrive Alive lists types of criminals on our roads

1 Drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
2 Criminals referred to as the “Blue light gangs” who present themselves as police officials only to hijack and rob road users.
3 Criminals on motorcycles who target tourists
4 Criminals who commit crimes and use roads irresponsibly as an escape route.
5 Cash in transit robberies endanger the lives of security guards but also all fellow road users.
6 Taxi violence place the lives of drivers and commuters at risk.


How significant is the threat posed by drunk drivers?

Arrive Alive reports that drivers caught under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol has dropped by 1% during 2012 - 2013 with 71 065 recorded offences.

According to the Arrive Alive: “The increase in drug and alcohol confiscations cited above, requires focused interventions. Binge drinking, social drug use, reduction in civilian levels of firearm ownership, and continuous confiscations will reduce these police detected crimes and any form of crime associated with these facilitators.”


Sadly, hijacking, theft of vehicles and smash-and-grab instances are all too common on our roads. Not all crimes are violent and some criminals have devised clever strategies to take possession of vehicles and items.

A relatively new crime is the theft of vehicles and contents through remote-jamming devices. There is also a new trend of bike-jacking, as seen in Somerset West earlier in June 2014.

The SAPS reports carjacking has risen by 2.1% during 2012 -2013, vehicle theft (cars and motorcycles) have dropped by 4.4% during the same period. Theft out of or from motor vehicles has reduced by 27.9% over 9 years, but increased by 18.8% during the past four years, and has also increased by 3.6% during the past financial year.

Cash-In-Transit robberies have been reduced by 20.3%.


A major concern for SA road users is the staggering amount of corrupt government officials which manifests in unqualified drivers and non-roadworthy vehicles.

The AA repors: "One of the major concerns for government and transport officials is the need to reduce fraud and corruption in the traffic environment.

"Corruption or bribery is described in legal terms as the practice of tendering [and accepting] a private advantage for the performance of a duty.”

“On a grand scale, money intended for maintenance of roads or service provision and the upgrading or provision of facilities is diverted for private gain. On an immediate level, unqualified drivers and non-roadworthy vehicles are granted licences and certificates.”

Corruption manifests in the following areas:

1 Fraudulent licensing – Corrupt licensing officers allows unqualified drivers on our roads.
2 Fraud and roadworthiness – Fraud within roadworthy certification centres leads to illegal vehicles on our roads.
3 Bribery and traffic fines – A common type of corruption encountered by SA drivers is bribery associated with traffic officers.
4 Corruption in legal processes – All too often cases dealing with road traffic offences are “bungled” as blood samples, dockets and other forms of evidence end up missing due to corrupt activities.


The KwaZulu-Natal testing station  responsible for issuing a roadworthy certification to the truck involved in a crash that killed 24 people in Pietermaritzburg in 2013, was shut down in May 2014.

On May 29 2014 ,Wheels24 reported that KZN transport MEC Willies Mchunu said that the Phoenix Testing Station in Durban's Phoenix Industrial Park was suspended.

The AA reports: “We also find incidents of doctors and lawyers defrauding the Road Accident Fund. This has an impact on our ability to provide post crash relief and assistance to road crash victims.”
“Even the best driver may fall victim to crime. We may not be able to prevent a road crash but we may well be able to reduce the impact thereof and the severity of the injuries. We would like to urge road users to remain vigilant, buckled-in, non-distracted and to pay close attention to road and traffic conditions.

“Ensure that you allow yourself enough time and space to respond to emergencies and make adequate provision for heath, medical and car insurance cover. Safer road will only be possible if we also manage to reduce crime in South Africa!


The AA said: “We would like to encourage citizens to help one another in reducing crime by lending a hand and making their voices heard about crime.”

This can be done by contacting:

South African Police emergency number: 10111
Crime Stop tip-off: 08600 10111
Corruption watch: 0800 023 456
National Traffic Anti-Corruption unit: 0861 400 800

Have you been a victim of crime on SA's roads? Do you have suggestion as to how authorities can combat crimes affecting road users? Email us and we'll publish your thoughts on Wheels24!
Read more on:    arrive alive  |  south africa  |  crime  |  road safety

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