Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) CEO Makhosini Msibi has not come to play this week. He and his department are ready to bring the Hammer of Thor down on drunk drivers and has already suggested some stiff penalties for offenders.
Msibi appeared on eNCA this Monday morning, to clarify his organisation’s strategy against the scourge of boozy motorists. In recent weeks, he has named drunk driving as the leading cause of road accidents in South Africa, claiming that vehicle fatalities have cost South Africa R170 billion last year alone.
But what do they want to do change, and why? We’re breaking down Msibi’s proposals, and if you’re daft enough to take the chance behind the wheel after a drink, this is going to read like a horror story:
We will start with the headline from these proposals. Msibi says it is imperative that the government “sends a message” to these offenders. He is proposing that those who are found to be drunk behind the wheel must spend a seven-day stint behind bars, before being able to post bail.
The department will look to bump up the severity of drunk driving, as it is written in law. Msibi believes that something drastic needs to be done to make offenders “think twice” about their actions:
“If you’re arrested while driving under influence, that falls under a Section 59. But we want it to be a Section 60, where we can also reclassify it as a “schedule 5″ – under this category, offenders must spend time in jail.”
“We need to show that these are serious offences. Things like rape and murder are often things people think twice about. Punishments are currently too lenient for drunk drivers.”
Msibi stated that most road fatalities are actually down to speeding and that this action can no longer be ignored. He believes that it is the root cause of a majority of road deaths, and will look to revise laws and punishments on this subject, too.
When discussing the topic of those charged with death by dangerous driving, Msibi noted that longer sentences were necessary for these particular criminals. He openly called out taxi drivers and staked a claim for the maximum punishment to increase from nine years to 15 years in jail:
“It’s mainly public transport giving us these headaches. When they crash and kill a passenger, it’s a culpable homicide charge. That’s just a slap in the face, nothing more.”
The CEO of the RTMC also said that major operations were underway against officers who have been accepting bribes to “look the other way” when drunk driving offences are committed. He says employees in KZN, Mpumalanga and Gauteng will soon face disciplinary action for their corrupt practices.
Msibi quickly mentioned that these stricter sentences will be just the same for anyone who drives high. With the recent dagga ruling still requiring much more legal classification, the department head said that those who use drugs and drive will receive the same punishment.
The interview concluded with Msibi saying they will look to get their proposals ratified into law after the 2019 General Election. That could be any time next year, but the CEO also hinted at April being their ideal target month. That gives everyone five months to prepare for the consequences of drunk driving.