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The annual December road carnage has this year seen some big names involved in vehicle crashes.
A Ford Fiesta owned by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was crashed into a tree in Joburg on Thursday, allegedly by a friend of her son.
Mapisa-Nqakula’s spokesman, Sonwabo Mbanana, said the minister would not comment on the crash. He said they don’t encourage commenting on personal matters that involve the minister.
According to a source who was at the scene of the crash, the Fiesta crashed into a tree in Cooper Street, Cyrildene, near a Caltex garage, around 7.15am. The source said it appeared the friend had taken the car for a joyride after a night out.
Mapisa-Nqakula’s husband, former minister of defence and of safety and security Charles Nqakula, was at the scene.
The next night, another well-known South African was involved in a crash. 5FM radio personality and Idols judge Gareth Cliff tweeted that he had rolled his car in an attempt to avoid running over an animal in the road.
He tweeted: “Accident on the way home last night. No injuries. Nobody else involved. Don’t swerve for dogs and cats, no matter how much you love them.”
Cliff went on to say on his Facebook page that accidents can happen to anyone within a split second.
“Last night, on my way home, I swerved to miss an animal only minutes from my house and smashed my car up, but luckily emerged with only a cut or two.”
Cliff said the accident happened after he had left a fundraising event for Headway, an organisation that helps people with brain injuries, some of which were sustained in car accidents.
“Thanks for the support. Drive safely this festive season,” said Cliff.
Earlier this year, Cliff was arrested for speeding. He was caught driving 182km/h in a 120km/h zone in Lyttelton, Centurion.
These crashes are a small reflection of what is happening on the roads countrywide. The chairman of the Justice Project South Africa, Howard Dembovsky, said the road deaths in the first 10 days of December were the worst ever seen.
He said 417 people had reportedly died in the first 10 days, but it could be more if you consider about 30 percent of people who die in hospital about three weeks after a crash.
“We put out road safety messages every year, and the same thing happens every year,” said Dembovsky.
He said road law enforcement needed to be visible throughout the year in an effort to stop bad driving habits, instead of making money through speed cameras.
He said he has started tweeting images of terrible road accidents, including bodies, although faces are blocked out, to try to change people’s behaviour.
“I have been attacked for publishing the pictures, but the vast majority of people have responded that they are changing their behaviour because of the pictures.
The spokesman for the Road Traffic Management Corporation, Ashref Ismail, said yesterday he could not release the latest road death figures.
He said they would be announced today. -The Star