SA transport department says it plans to reclassify drunk driving to be as serious a crime as rape, murder or attempted murder.
The department’s decision follows the recent rise of death rate on South African roads over the 2016/17 festive season as was reported by the transport minister, Dipuo Peters.
Speaking on Tuesday on the matter, spokesperson for the SA Transport department, Ishmael Mnisi, says rescheduling of drunken driving and not granting bail will be a wake-up call for drunken law offenders.
The department, therefore, said it will be looking at changing the crime from a Schedule 3 to a Schedule 5 offence, meaning it will be in the same class as rape and murder.
Those who drive drunk should know that the consequences for disobeying this rule are serious because the chances of killing someone are high, says Mnisi
“The law offenders should know that once they transgress they are likely to be arrested, lose their licenses and they will obviously have a criminal record under their name. People of South Africa have been calling for the minister to be harsh on negligent and reckless drivers.
“We have been talking, we have been doing campaigns but still the law vindicates those that are found wanting…,” he added, noting that those convicted of a Schedule 5 offences will face a recommended minimum sentence of 15 years in jail. Schedule 5 offences include murder, attempted murder, treason, rape, corruption, extortion and fraud.
Meanwhile, SA transport minister noted that Limpopo had recorded the highest increase in deaths (31%), moving from 186 fatalities in the previous period to 244 this season while Eastern Cape, with 211 fatalities, recorded the largest decline in deaths (20%), compared to last season when the province had 265 fatalities.
KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State also recorded increases in fatalities at 18% and 17% respectively.
“What is alarming is that the four provinces of KZN, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Limpopo jointly accounted for 61% of the total number of people who died on the roads in this period,” Peters said.