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Drunk driving: JPSA questions Tony Yengeni DUI sentencing

2017-03-20 07:45

WAS IT ENOUGH? Do you think the ANC's Tony Yengeni's sentence for DUI was appropriate? Image: Lulama Zenzile

Cape Town – On Friday (March 17), the Cape Town Regional Court sentenced ANC national executive committee member Tony Yengeni to a R30 000 fine or 90 days in jail but this will be effectively halved on condition he isn't convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol for five years, News24 reported. 

Reduced fine

Yengeni now has to pay a fine of R15 000.

Justice Project South Africa's national chairman, Howard Dembovsky, said: "It is notable that despite being convicted of this offence, Yengeni’s driving licence was not suspended for a minimum period of six months as is mandatory in terms of Section 35 of the National Road Traffic Act."

Do agree with Tony Yengeni's DUI sentence? Should judges have handed down a stricter sentence? Email us or reach us via Facebook  and Twitter.

Dembovsky continued: "In December 2016, a speeding but sober motorist who was driving on a freeway was convicted in a KwaZulu-Natal Magistrates’ Court, sentenced to a R40 000 fine, where no suspended portion applied thereto, but also suspended his driving licence for twelve months. 

"Both, the Road Traffic Management Corporation and the Minister of Transport publicly vilified the Magistrate in that matter, holding that the man’s driving licence should have been cancelled, as opposed to being suspended." 

In 2008, it was revealed by the National Injury Mortality Surveillance System (NIMSS) that almost 58% of drivers killed in road traffic crashes had blood alcohol levels in excess of three times the “legal limit” of less than 0.05g per 100ml of blood sampled, claims the JPSA.

Dembovsky: "It is therefore our considered opinion that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs should be considered to be a very serious crime indeed and the sentences handed down by our courts should reflect this when people are convicted of the crime. 

"Yengeni’s blood alcohol level was apparently five times the 'legal limit'.

"We trust that the RTMC and Minister will express a similar level of outrage in relation to Yengeni’s matter to that they expressed in the KZN speeding matter."

Readers respond

Concerned citizen: "My brother is 62-years-old and three years ago had too much to drink. On his way home he hit a stationary car with no one in the vehicle. He was arrested and his blood alcohol level was twice that of the legal limit (this happened in the Western Cape). He was given a fine of R12 000 plus his licence was suspended for 5 years.

"Yengeni’s sentence does not make sense to me, is it perhaps because of his money, notoriety as an ANC member or both that he became the lesser of evils as a drunk driver. And for him to then declare that the DA does not want people of color in the Western Cape, as if shifting the blame to a governing party is the reason for his fine. 

"He is a loser and deserves to be in jail. Once again it proves, there are two sets of rules, those with the money and connections and those who tirelessly slog through another day. My opinion is that the limit should be 0% and that no mercy must be shown to those breaking the law, however the fines and licence suspensions must serve all."

Nothing has changed

Serious concern has been voiced over the continued tendency to drink and drive in 2017, MasterDrive SA claims. National Transport Minister, Dipuo Peters, is one of the people concerned about this habit and is proposing changing drinking and driving to a schedule five offence, which is the same category under which murder falls. 
Managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says while he commends this step he is not convinced it will bring about big enough change, fast enough.

Herbert says: "The move to change the blood alcohol level to 0%, which was started almost two years ago, still has not come to fruition. I believe the greatest potential to bring about real change lies in changing mindsets of drivers. Yet, this still remains the biggest challenge to reducing drinking and driving."

Many people, especially those who have sat behind the wheel of a car intoxicated, are fully aware of the dangers of doing so.

Yet, why do so many people continue to drive even when they are well over the limit? There could be many reasons for this, including embarrassment to ask for help or more dangerously, an underestimation of just how much you have had to drink.

Drunk goggles

MasterDrive brand manager, Penny Wagner, brought along "impairment goggles" to the News24 offices to show us what it's like to drive while drunk but without actually consuming alcohol.

How it works:

MasterDrive, a defensive driver training company, uses alcohol, drug and sleep deprivation goggles which are among the best tools to enhance safety training and highlight substance abuse. The vision-distorting goggles simulate visual and cognitive effects of intoxication from alcohol, drugs or fatigue.


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