Send traffic offenders to jail - MEC

Durban - Criminalising traffic offences and throwing offenders in prison is on the cards as KwaZulu-Natal transport MEC Willies Mchunu is pleading with his national counterpart for laws to impose harsher punishment.

Mchunu said on Thursday fining traffic offenders was not deterring motorists from breaking traffic rules, and he was negotiating with transport Minister Dipuo Peters to buy into the idea of imposing harsher punishments.

UNgqongqoshe wezokuThutha KwaZulu-Natal uMnuz Willies Mchunu. Isithombe: Sibusiso Zungu. Credit: Independent Media

Mchunu was outlining the plans for his next five years in office after being reappointed to the provincial portfolio.

“They commit an offence, you fine them and they pay,” he said. “They commit another offence, you fine them and they pay. Now we have to make it painful for them.”

“I would be very happy if they were sent to jail.”

He said he was pleased that road accidents in the province had declined by 33 percent over the past five years.

Mchunu declined to list the type of offences that he thought should be criminalised, but said he was concerned about speeding, unroadworthy vehicles and drunk driving as these offences were the main causes of deaths.

Mchunu said his department was also looking at transforming the taxi industry so it could be taxed.

He said the department was looking at assisting taxi owners with the management of their finances.

The province was also in the process of changing vehicle number plates as, Mchunu said, the current one bearing only the “N” for Natal was from the old government.

“We no longer have a province called Natal. It is now called KwaZulu-Natal and we have to move on with transformation,” he said.

However, he said changing the number plates would be debated in public hearings.