Safety campaigns fail to curb rising deaths on roads

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Despite the KwaZulu-Natal department of transport spending more than R2 million on the Asiphephe soccer tournament to curb road accidents , seven people died at the weekend alone.

The dead include two teachers and a priest.

It appears the road safety campaigns are falling on deaf ears as motorists in the province continue to ignore the rules of the road. These lead to innocent people dying.

Londi Mngomelulu, 40, and Phumelele Shandu, 54, were devoted teachers at Umkhanyakude District in Zululand.

They died when a truck and their Polo collided at an on-ramp leading to the N2 at Mkhuze on Sunday.

The accident left five people dead, including Reverend Godfrey Bhaqwa, 50, and two members of his congregation who were on their way to a church service at Ingwavuma. The other victims were Alex Shandu, 28, and Nozipho Mbokazi, 43.

The horror accident happened when the driver of a truck carrying 20 passengers allegedly ignored a road sign, failed to stop at an intersection and rammed into the Polo.

The driver was allegedly drunk and fled the scene.

He was arrested while relaxing at his home the same day.

The driver, Bonginkosi Dladla, appeared briefly in the Obonjeni magistrate's court and was released on R500 bail. The case was adjourned to next month.

In a separate accident, two family members were killed near Melmoth when the brakes of the vehicle in which they were travelling failed. The car then collided with a truck.

Two weeks ago, 10 people were killed and 33 injured when a Greyhound bus and a bakkie collided head-on at the intersection of the R66 and R34.

Despite the gloomy statistics, Nonkululeko Mbatha, spokesman for the provincial department of transport, says they have achieved their goals by decreasing the number of people who die on the province's roads.

She said that during the past festive season, fewer deaths occurred than last year. She says most accidents occur "because drivers do not care".

"Some of the people listen. Our campaign of 'Just do right' works. Many accidents are caused by drivers and our biggest challenge is to deal with drivers' attitude and behaviour.

"We are currently also strengthening our law enforcement on the roads," she said.

Mbatha said she hoped the de-merit system that would lead to drivers losing their licences would have the desired effect of making them listen.