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21 December 2011

SAWDIS Holiday Alert 2011/2012

710 festive season road deaths

Johannesburg - Since the beginning of the festive season on December 1, there have been 710 fatalities on South Africa's roads, the road traffic management corporation (RTMC) said on Tuesday.

Almost 600 fatal crashes were recorded between December 1 and December 19, spokesperson Ashref Ismail said.

Factors that contributed to the crashes were high speed, dangerous driving, fatigue among long distance minibus drivers, overloading and tyre failure.

Between December 12 and 18, more than 1 000 motorists were arrested for transgressions including drunken driving, excessive speed, overloading and reckless or negligent driving.

"A total of 215 467 vehicles were stopped in that same period across the country, and 1 625 vehicles were discontinued," Ismail said.

Heavy traffic was expected on various major routes ahead of the Christmas weekend.

"Motorists are urged to obey speed limits, ensure that your vehicle fitness [check] is done and rest when tired.

"Mixing energy drinks and whisky does not help with fatigue. While it will give you a temporary high, it will result in an immediate slump in energy levels. Fatigue requires rest."

- SAPA/News24

90 die on Western Cape roads

The Western Cape Transport Department on Tuesday said 90 people have died on the province's roads since the start of the festive season.

In the same period last year, 95 people died on Cape roads.

Provincial transport’s Steven Otter said they are bitterly disappointed with the statistics.

He said many children were still dying on Western Cape roads.

- EWN

Launch of Operation Hlasela

I am happy to join you today at this important occasion, when we promote the importance of road safety and general safety and crime prevention during the festive season.

We have just concluded a very busy year. Most people have taken some time off work to be with their families, which they do not find much time to do during the year due to hectic work schedules.

Others work far away from home. This is the only time they have to spend time with families, relatives and friends.

We wish all extended families well during this period of reunion and togetherness.

However, before reaching families, most people have to use the country’s roads. They either drive or utilize public transport such as buses and minibus taxis.

Many people do not have to travel long distances but will use the roads to visit families and friends nearby, do holiday shopping or visit the beach and other holiday venues.

This is the time for us to remind all to take road safety messages seriously.

It is easy to dismiss such messages as being routine but the carnage on our roads indicates that we have a lot to do, either through more public education or law enforcement.

We have witnessed some tragic and horrific crashes in recent times. Only last week in Harrismith, 30 people were killed in a head on collision between a mini-bus taxi and a truck.

Such crashes are usually not accidents. They are normally caused through sheer negligence of the traffic laws which include overloading, drunk driving and over speeding amongst others.

It is estimated that we lose 14 000 lives per annum due to road crashes. We have to stop this carnage.

We lose an estimated R56 billion per annum in total cost to the economy. However, the emotional loss to families is immeasurable. Some of the people who die in the crashes are bread winners. They leave many families destitute.

Each of us has an important role to play to stop the road crashes which cause unnecessary loss of life and injuries.

As government we are intensifying the campaign to improve road safety. We urge people to act responsibly and obey the rules of the road.

Respecting traffic regulations, wearing seat belts at all times, taking a rest after long distances and generally doing everything that we are advised to do in order to stay safe on the road is non-negotiable and very critical.

Government is continuing to implement a three year National Rolling Enforcement Plan which commenced in October 2010.

The campaign prioritises visible law enforcement. This includes our ambitious campaign to check a million vehicles and drivers monthly.

There are some critical facts that inform government’s action.

The South African Medical Research Council’s figures indicate that more than 60% of fatal crashes, especially over weekends, result from the abuse of alcohol, either by drivers or pedestrians.

As a result, traffic officers have been directed to arrest at least one drunken driver per month.

A concerted effort will also be made regarding dangerous driving. Motorists will be arrested for excessive speeding, reckless and negligent driving and barrier line infringement.

Public transport rules enforcement will continue. Taxi and bus operators that do not comply with permit requirements, who are guilty of gross overloading and who operate vehicles that are not roadworthy, will be arrested.

We want to emphasise the importance of wearing seatbelts.

Research has proven that if we can increase the seatbelt wearing rate by 80% for both front and back seat passengers, we can reduce road deaths by 25-30%.

We are therefore calling on all South Africans road users to buckle up at all times.

We have noted that if we are to change the culture, we must focus on our young people who are the motorists of tomorrow.

Instilling a sense of responsibility and appreciation for road safety and developing a culture of responsible road usage will shape the future of road safety in South Africa and Africa as a whole.

We will also continue to focus on primary schools and have developed multi-media road safety education materials to improve the effectiveness of road safety education programmes in schools.

We also encourage our law enforcement officers to make the road safety intervention strategy a 365 days a year a commitment.

This will help ensure that our citizens do not confine responsible road behavior during holiday seasons only.

During this period we also remind all South Africans that government will intensify the fight against crime. We invite all law abiding citizens and visitors to work with us to prevent crime during the holiday season.

The Minister of Police has announced that the police will increase visibility through patrols at all tourist destinations especially along the coastal cities.

They will focus on preventing and arresting those suspected of aggravated robberies, including house and business robberies, cash-in-transit heists, as well as ATM bombings.

Police will also focus on social crime-prevention operations dealing with contact crimes such as murder, rape and crimes against women and children.

There is also a concerted focus on the fight against alcohol and drug abuse during this period.

The global abuse and accessibility of drugs has become increasingly complex, as trafficking routes have become shorter, more diverse and more easily traversed.

Police will continue operations to eradicate this scourge, especially amongst our young people who are gullible and are abused by drug traffickers and drug lords.

It is unforgiveable for drug lords to use young people to carry out their dirty work for them as is happening.

We urge parents and communities generally to be vigilant and assist unsuspecting young people who fall prey to drug lords. Through more public awareness campaigns we can be able to protect young people from being used in this manner.

As part of the broader fight against crime during this festive season and beyond, government also launched the Anti-Piracy and Counterfeit Goods Campaign.

Based on the previous successes in the fight against crime, police remain confident of victory on this anti-piracy campaign.

Our musicians work hard producing music that we all enjoy. Criminals then use illegal methods to reproduce the CDs and DVDs. We must not buy counterfeit goods as they kill our musical heritage and are tantamount to stealing the hard-earned cash of our musicians.

There is a concerted campaign by various partners to fight piracy.

They include the police, departments of Trade and Industry, Home Affairs, SARS and the National Prosecuting Authority, the Southern African Federation Against Theft, the Recording Industry of South Africa as well as the Films and Publications Board.

A few prominent artists, most of whom are direct victims of piracy, are also spearheading the campaign. They include Deborah Fraser, Zahara and Lusanda and many others. We need to support our artists by not buying fake CDs and DVDs.

Police will conduct general operations to curb the increasing volumes of piracy and the counterfeit production and illegal sale of CDs, DVDs, counterfeit cigarettes and clothing across the country.

Already some progress has been made.

Since 28 November this year, police in Gauteng working in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies and government departments have seized R50 million worth of counterfeit goods.

We also wish to remind the public that the new Second Hand Goods Act specifies that a person who buys a stolen good is as guilty as the person who sold it.

With regards to ATM bombings, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, otherwise known as the Hawks is establishing provincial task teams to specifically focus on combating this crime.

Since the implementation of the strategy, we have succeeded significantly in reducing ATM attacks. The figures for the first six months of this financial year show a decline of 17%.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Government’s safety operations will also touch on increasing public awareness about child care during the festive season, working with the Department of Social Development.

We know that in coastal cities such as Durban some irresponsible parents leave children unattended at the beach, and the police, lifeguards and other officials end up looking after children instead of doing their work. We urge parents to stop this irresponsible practice.

Ladies and gentlemen

We also urge you to assist police during this period, to locate some dangerous wanted criminals.

The police recently launched the Tracking Team, a pilot unit which has been operating in Gauteng since May 2011, tracking the most wanted identified criminals in South Africa.

You may have seen advertisements in newspapers and also billboards with the faces of these criminals.

This campaign began in September and will continue until the end of January 2012.

We call upon all South Africans to partner with the police in fighting the scourge of crime by helping them to find these suspects so that they can face the law.

We will continue to strengthen partnerships between the public, law-enforcement agencies and other government departments in ensuring a safe and secure environment during the festive season and beyond.

I wish you all a happy and safe festive season.

I thank you.

President Jacob Zuma