Cape Town - A father’s worst nightmare has unfolded on a Cape “road of death”.
The man from Cape Town was travelling to the Eastern Cape at around 7am on Thursday. His four children and two of their uncles were in a second vehicle, a Toyota Venture mini-van.
They were due to meet up in Laingsburg, provincial traffic chief Kenny Africa said. But, somehow, they missed each other. The Venture had continued on the N1 to Beaufort West.
Shortly after, ambulances left Laingsburg, heading towards Beaufort West too. The father followed them in his own car, Africa said. And around 40km along the N1, he and the ambulances came upon a terrible scene.
The Venture had smashed into an oncoming truck and all six people inside had been killed.
The truck driver told officers the Venture veered into his on-coming lane and they had connected head-on.
At the time of going to press, police spokesman Andre Traut said neither names nor ages had been released.
Africa said about 26 people had died on the road this festive season so far and they were planning to bring the number down from last year where 139 people died on the road during the festive season.
The latest tragedy unfolded on precisely the same day that a Western Cape provincial government cluster of MECs – Community Safety, Transport and Health – launched the seasonal “Safely Home” campaign.
Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said: “We will increase the detection and prosecution of road traffic offences by having all staff on duty, and will once again run a 24-hours-a-day, 7- days-a-week operation. We will also have road blocks throughout the province and will stop and check at least 200 000 vehicles during the 2012/13 festive season.”
Transport MEC Robin Carlisle said that between December 1, last year, and January 31, this year, 243 people were killed on the province’s roads.
“The province is determined to bring that number down significantly,” he vowed.
“We are on track to reduce road deaths by 50 percent by December 2014. As of the end of November, we have reduced the fatalities by 29 percent. Over the next two months, I want to see that reduction go well past the 30 percent mark.”
The trio said Safely Home activities over this festive season would include:
l The new Average Speed Over Distance (Asod) camera network enforcement system on 31.7km of road on the Three Sisters-Beaufort West to Laingsburg “death stretch” , adding to the already existing 71.6km Asod system on the Beaufort West to Aberdeen (R61) stretch.
l A partnership with SA National Taxi Council’s (Santaco) “Hlokomela” project, the goal of which is to “change the face of the taxi industry” through its road safety initiative. Industry leaders will be assisting officials at ranks and road blocks to identify unroadworthy vehicles and address drivers on safety and the need for regular rests.
l Various enforcement efforts that include fatigue management.
l Other activities centred around speeding, drunk driving, and pedestrians (who account for half the fatalities in the province). Carlisle urged: “Switch on your headlights over the festive season, and please exercise patience. There will be congestion at times, this is just a natural result of everyone wanting to experience the same fun and festivities as you do. Be patient, and our traffic officers will do their best to ease the situation.”
Health MEC Theuns Botha added: “EMS will be present on the N1, N2, N7, R62, R61 and R27, and medical response teams will be on standby to support staff at rural hospitals. This year we will also be working with taxi operators to facilitate the transport of stranded passengers. Cross-border assistance will be rendered on the N1 and N7 for the Northern Cape, and on the N2, R61 and N12 for the Eastern Cape.
“On days when large-scale partying is anticipated, EMS will have satellite operational points,” Botha reported. – Additional reporting by Neo Maditla - Cape Argus