24 August 2020
When the President announced last week that the country would move to alert level 2 of the lockdown to allow for more reopening of the economy, many South Africans saw this as a positive sign that we are making progress in our efforts to contain the Coronavirus.
The President, rightly so, reminded us to continue to exercise the greatest caution and care, during alert level 2 and remain ever-vigilant.
Tragically, the positive progress that the country has been making towards containing the spread of COVID19 is being dampened by report of alcohol abuse, recklessness and terrible vehicle crashes and fatalities on our roads.
The recent spate of fatal accidents following the reopening of liquor sales is a cause for concern. It cannot be acceptable that three Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) officers are among the people who died in alcohol-related vehicle accidents that occurred in Gauteng this past weekend. Government sends its condolences to the families and loved ones of the three officers who died in such a tragic manner.
As verified by the police, 740 suspects, including two police officers were arrested for drinking and driving. A 27-year-old Constable was arrested in Sedibeng on Saturday night after driving into an accident, injuring a bystander. He was charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol as well as reckless and negligent driving. A Sergeant was arrested in Norwood, Johannesburg on Thursday night after his car collided with a Metro police vehicle. The 37-year-old was arrested on the spot and charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol.
While many South Africans are responsible in their use of alcohol, government and society cannot sit idle while lives are being destroyed as a result of alcohol abuse and binge drinking.
We have noticed that some people do not abide by alert level 2 regulations which place restrictions on gathering and we urge law enforcement authorities to play their role in bringing the culprits to book.
In the midst of a pandemic, it cannot be acceptable that health-care workers in our hospitals have to deal with high numbers of cases at the trauma units as a result of alcohol.
Although the government is committed to address societal issues such as alcohol abuse and the carnage on our roads, ultimately, these issues are everybody’s responsibility.
Government calls on all South Africans to promote responsible alcohol use and road safety in the country.
Government further appeals to the liquor industry to strengthen current efforts with government that aim to curb the scourge of alcohol abuse.
Alcohol abuse is also often at the heart of contact crimes which include murder, attempted murder, sexual offences, assault resulting in grievous bodily harm, common assault, and robbery. Some families risk being totally destroyed because of the extent of alcohol abuse, it is estimated that around 70 per cent of domestic violence is associated with alcohol.
Law enforcement agencies are urged to do their part through visible enforcement, but more important, we urge road users, especially drivers, to take extra care and exercise utmost vigilance on the road. We welcome the call from the Police Minister Bheki Cele for police to be tough on alcohol consumption and driving.
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