MINISTER of Transport Joe Maswanganyi is confident this year’s Easter weekend road deaths will be significantly down on last year.
“The minister’s view is that drivers, pedestrians and passengers heeded the call for road safety. We are confident that the number of fatalities will have reduced,” said Ishmail Mnisi, spokesperson for the Department of Transport.
“When we release the statistics on Friday we will record a decrease,” Mnisi said. The long weekend attracted a lot of travelling, increased accidents and fatalities.
Mnisi said Maswanganyi thanked law enforcement officers for their work and overtime spent ensuring people adhered to the rules of the road.
He also thanked motorists, pedestrians and passengers for taking road safety seriously.
Mnisi said they were not in a position to speculate on the numbers as the Easter weekend was not officially over, but by Friday when the numbers are revealed they will have had a chance to interpret what the numbers mean and to what a decrease is attributed. A decrease in road fatalities would not be new as last year during this time former transport minister Dipuo Peters revealed that there were 156 road accidents over Easter compared to 287 in 2015.
The big road accident story of the weekend was a bus crash in KwaZulu-Natal where 14 people lost their lives and another eight in the Western Cape.
“We are aware of the major incidents on our roads, but generally we are quite happy with the behaviour,” Mnisi said.
The department released a statement yesterday expressing their condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones during this time.
“The national Department of Transport has expressed its profound condolences to the families of the deceased who lost their loved ones during this weekend and wishes a speedy recovery to those who were injured in various car crashes from the start of the Easter weekend,” the statement read.
In Pretoria one person died and four sustained moderate injuries in an accident between a bus and dump truck.
The two vehicles collided on the corner of Pretorius and Du Toit streets in the inner city and then crashed into a nearby store.
The driver of the bus succumbed to his injuries while three other passengers were taken to the Tshwane District Hospital.
“There was nothing that paramedics could do for him and he was declared dead at the scene,” said Werner Vermaak, ER24 spokesperson.
The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) announced that they had arrested an “alarming” number of drunk drivers and road speedsters.
Simon Zwane, RTMC spokesperson said more than 1700 people had been caught speeding while 84 people were driving without a licence and 345 people had overloaded their vehicles.
“We can no longer tolerate habitual traffic offenders. We therefore call upon the judiciary to impose stiffer sentences to perpetual traffic offenders,” the department said. They said the unroadworthy vehicles which were impounded would not be released until after the Easter weekend.
“We are sending a clear message to traffic offenders that the honeymoon is over.”
The bus strike which threatened to derail Easter weekend travel plans ended during the weekend with unions accepting a 9% wage increase.