Almost 50 Cape drivers have been sentenced to jail in the past year after alcohol-related busts – and this has delighted national and provincial transport authorities.
National Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele is so impressed by the Name and Shame campaign – a joint initiative between LeadSA and the province’s Safely Home awareness drive – that he said on Wednesday that he would support its roll-out elsewhere in the country.
On Wednesday, the Cape Argus publishes the latest list of Western Cape drivers who have been sentenced in the province’s criminal courts for drinking and driving.
Their names have been handed to the provincial transport department to be captured on its eNatis database.
October 1 marks one year since the launch of the award-winning Name and Shame campaign.
Since then 664 drivers have been sentenced in the province for drunken driving offences, 47 of whom were sent directly to jail without the option of paying fines or serving another type of sentence.
One was jailed for four years, six for three years and the remaining 40 for between six months and two-and-a-half years.
A further 12 had their licences cancelled, which is different to a suspension and means they may not reapply for a decade.
Many of the 664 were concentrated in what appear to be clampdown hot spots, such as Oudts-hoorn where 66 drivers were bust, Swellendam (35) and Worcester and Mossel Bay (30 each).
In greater Cape Town, Kuils River, Atlantis, Cape Town central, Delft, Eerste River, Belhar and Mitchells Plain were hot spots, with more than 10 convictions in each.
Western Cape Transport MEC Robin Carlisle said on Wednesday that while the 47 jail sentences were gratifying, “we would like to see a much higher percentage of convicted drunken drivers behind bars”.
“Drunken drivers are responsible for most of the deaths on our roads, and the more savage the sentences, the sooner this scourge will be brought under control.
“Nevertheless, in jailing some of the drunken drivers, the courts are sending out a powerful message that will save hundreds of lives,” Carlisle said. “As a result, we are making steady progress towards our target of reducing the death toll on roads by half by 2014.”
Ndebele said on Wednesday that he fully supported the campaign’s roll-out across South Africa, and welcomed the jailing of the 47 drivers.
He also noted that it had been a year since the announcement of the National Rolling Enforcement Plan (NREP) on September 10 last year.
Since then, just shy of 13 million vehicles and drivers had been stopped and checked and 18 527 drunken drivers had been arrested on the country’s roads.
More than five million fines had been issued for various traffic offences and 50 272 unroadworthy vehicles, most of them buses and taxis, had been taken off the road.
The people on this and all other lists featured in the Cape Argus since October last year were convicted in connection with two crimes:
l Driving over the limit: the drivers were tested and found to be over the legal limit for blood alcohol, breath alcohol, or both.
l Driving under the influence: the drivers were convicted based on records showing them to be driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs – through, for example, witness testimony or photographic evidence.
The list does not say when the crimes were committed. Not all magistrate’s courts file their records simultaneously, and thenames of convicted drivers are
recorded on the eNatis system as they arrive at the transport department.
At the time of going to press it was not possible to ascertain how many, if any, of the 664 drivers had been convicted solely on the basis of evidence from Dräger breathalyser machines.
The transport department said on Wednesday that only a handful of people had been prosecuted and convicted based purely on results from Dräger tests.
These people now had the option of challenging their conviction based on the court’s judgment.
The Dräger system was recently challenged and temporarily suspended in the Western Cape High Court.
The court suspended the use of Dräger machines until refinements have been made to the devices