Heavy policing throughout the country has landed more
than 1 000 motorists behind bars for drunken driving over
the festive season.
Statistics from Arrive Alive show that almost 400 people
were caught for being under the influence of alcohol in
the first 10 days of December.
However, in Johannesburg alone during the festive season,
more than 650 people were caught for drunken driving.
Traffic authorities in KwaZulu Natal apprehended more than
300 motorists, while in the Western Cape they arrested
about 200 individuals, according to Arrive Alive.
Wayne Minnaar, the Johannesburg Metro spokesman, said the
drunken motorists were taken to the nearest police station
where they had to provide a blood sample and were then
allowed to leave the station once able to drive. They were
subpoenaed to appear in court afterwards.
"Drunken driving has been identified as one of the
main causes of fatalities and we have worked hard to
ensure that we do something about this," he said.
Minnaar said the worst offender was an individual who was
more than four times over the 0.05 g/100 ml legal limit.
Colin Msibi, the national spokesperson for the department
of transport, said the New Year celebrations were often
associated with consumption of alcohol resulting in
reckless behaviour on the roads.
"South Africa has one of the highest levels of
alcohol consumption per drinker in the world," he
said, adding that the estimated per capita consumption of
alcohol here was between 10.3 and 12.4 litres.
"Some drink first thing in the morning, drink to
intoxication or drink apart from meals," he said.
Drinking and driving carries a maximum fine of R120 000 or
a six-year jail sentence with the possibility of a
Meanwhile, traffic authorities throughout the country are
gearing up for the homeward rush ahead of the new school
term in the inland provinces, which starts on Wednesday.
On Friday, Johannesburg Metro began roadblocks from 10pm
to 4am, intent on cracking down on drunken driving and
nabbing motorists with outstanding fines. "We are
adopting zero tolerance even as the holiday season
ends," said Minnaar.
In Johannesburg during December the increased police
presence had resulted in fewer accidents and fatalities
compared to the same period last year.
Sixty people died in accidents in December in
Johannesburg, compared to 72 in 2006.
The Johannesburg Metro police blitz came after Arrive
Alive said the number of deaths on South Africa's roads
fell from 1 440 a year ago to 1 142 over the past festive
However, Gauteng with 231 fatalities, still led the way in
terms of deaths, followed by 170 in KwaZulu-Natal; 145 in
the Eastern Cape; 145 in Mpumalanga; 134 in the Western
Cape; 125 in Limpopo; 97 in North West and 23 in the
Traffic authorities have warned motorists to obey the
rules of the road and drive with patience. Heavy volumes
of traffic have been reported on various major routes.
On the N4 between Mozambique and Pretoria, more than 600
vehicles an hour have been recorded travelling towards
More than 1 000 vehicles an hour have been recorded
travelling towards Pretoria at the Middelburg tollgate.
Traffic volumes were beginning to increase on the N1 from
Limpopo to Pretoria, the roads from Mozambique to Gauteng
and the N3 to Gauteng with most national toll roads
predicting heavy traffic flows this weekend.
Msibi said more than 500 pedestrians died on South African
roads this festive season, compared to 497 last festive
"Pedestrians remain the most vulnerable road users
and the number of fatalities involving them is
"This connects to the problem of excessive drinking,
so the focus of our enforcement measures becomes more
multi-pronged with more officers deployed at holiday
spots, townships and villages," he said.
- This article was originally
published on page 5 of Cape
Argus on January 06, 2008