Columns 16.3.2015 12:06 pm

Tragedy leaves SA poorer

Devlin Brown, digital editor. Picture: twitter

Devlin Brown, digital editor. Picture: twitter

The accident that robbed South Africa of Minister of Public Service and Administration Collins Chabane, his driver and bodyguard shocked the country yesterday.Devlin Brown

I am certain everyone will join me in sending condolences to his family and the families of the people in the car with him, as well as to the ANC and the government. Chabane’s passing is devastating and utterly needless, and leaves one grasping for meaning in shock.

I was unfortunate enough to open Twitter and see the wreck that took their lives. It is an image I will not forget, and to say that I was angry would be an understatement. I am still angry – angry that such a stupid action by a truck driver could rip up families in an instant. When will the carnage end?

Every Easter weekend and Christmas holiday we are bombarded with warnings, alerts and figures about our dangerous roads. And guess what? Nothing changes. We are in a state of nature in this country where you use the roads at your own risk. Travelling has become quite literally a gamble with life and death, and I am sick of it.

I bet most of you reading this wait a few moments for the inevitable taxi or other selfish pig to fly through their red light before you risk driving through your green light. I challenge you: at the next intersection you’re at, count the number of people who whiz through red lights, risking your and their lives with flagrant disregard for the law.

People who do this are irresponsible and should be removed from the roads. We have enough murderers, thanks – I don’t need to share the road with you and your flashy GTI or overloaded Toyota Quantum if you don’t care about my life.

I live along a main route. My front gate is a few metres from the road and about 30 metres from an intersection. I have woken up to monstrous thumps and screaming far too many times to count. I walk outside to find taxis on their sides or their roofs, and see groups of people – on their way to work pre-dawn – bloodied and broken, moaning in agony, strewn across my pavement and driveway.

Yet every day I still see arrogant pigs flying past my gate as if they are above the law. Taxis, Mercs, bikes or trucks – it makes no difference. Neither do calls to the council begging that the speed-camera warning that was taken out in the last accident be replaced.

The roads are a metaphor for everything else in this country: survival of the fittest and a disregard for the law and law enforcement. The way we drive is an extension of our societal violence. Toyota Fortuners are weapons and no one is equal.

Instead of focusing so hard and stubbornly on e-tolls, government should come down like a ton of bricks on irresponsible road users. Bring law enforcement up to scratch. Ensure that every bribe-taker cop or bribe giver is prosecuted. Focus on making the roads, where families face carnage daily, a safer place.

Maybe then people wouldn’t mind paying for the “privilege” of using the roads.

 

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