JOHANNESBURG – Justice Project South Africa was horrified to hear that Transport Minister, Ben Martins has reportedly stated that “the biggest problem in reducing road carnage in South Africa is that the country relies too heavily on law enforcement” and “it is impossible for traffic officers to police the behaviour of motorists”.
Given the fact that very little traffic law enforcement for moving violations other than speeding takes place in South Africa, it is ridiculous that such a statement should be made. If the Minister of Finance said “it’s impossible for SARS to police tax compliance”, this country would be bankrupt.
If it is not the responsibility of the 17,000 odd traffic officers in this country to enforce traffic law, then exactly whose responsibility is it? South Africa is way beyond “voluntary compliance” with traffic laws and if traffic policing does not change radically for the better in this country, we will not be seeing a 50% reduction on road deaths by 2020, we will be seeing a dramatic increase.
Worldwide, road safety initiatives adopt the “four E’s” of road safety – Education, Engineering, Enforcement and Evaluation. Relegating law enforcement to an unimportant component as has been done today is not only contrary to international best practices, but is grossly irresponsible. We’d also like to learn what Friday’s four-and-a-half hour roadblock held by the JMPD on the N1 North at Samrand Road had to do with road safety, given the fact that we’ve been told motorists were given pamphlets on fireworks.
JPSA is and remains a staunch advocate for road safety, as well as professional and proper traffic policing. You simply cannot excuse improper and corrupt traffic law enforcement by saying “people should comply voluntarily”. Whilst traffic law enforcement authorities continue to generate billions of Rands of camera speeding fines to boost their coffers and profit from the lawlessness on our roads, whilst also turning a blind eye to corruption, nothing is going to improve.
“I would like to invite Minister Martins to engage in a public debate on the importance of professional law enforcement in road safety initiatives”, said JPSA’s Howard Dembovsky. “Whilst I doubt that my invitation will be accepted, it’s worth a shot.”
National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)