Cape Town - On Monday, the City of Cape Town lashed out following the illegal street racing incident that took place on the N1 outgoing at the Sable Road off-ramp just after midnight which left the driver of the BMW involved in the crash seriously injured.
The crash has sparked a debate regarding the culture of street racing within the province, and questions were also raised about what measures are being taken to curb illegal drag racing.
The Cape Argus took to social media and collected comments from our readers, and the response has been mixed with some people saying that drag racing itself should be banned, while others are saying not enough is being done to regulate illegal drag racing, and crack down on it.
Jocelyn Zinn: "Ban it."
Tousseef Haroun: "Illegal street racing is not drag racing."
Sandra Ohlson: "I think sentencing charges should be heavier on all aspects...These people are getting away with a slap on the back and everyone else suffers their consequences."
Ble Sedi: "It happens every night from Thursday to Sunday. Traffic officials seem not to care ."
Sharon Holmes Pryor: "When we lived that side the drag racing was too terrible, that's not even the motorbikes that you hear all need racing there on the N1/Sable Road."
Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, clarified on Tuesday that d rag racing is legal but only if it is done on a track under strict safety conditions and with the necessary event permits. He added that within Cape Town, the track used is Killarney International Raceway.
"By contrast, what is happening on our streets is a combination of the following: illegal street racing where two or more vehicles are involved in a race on a public road without written permission from the relevant authority; spinning, where a vehicle spins around in circles resulting in excessive smoke (burning rubber); drifting, where vehicles travel at certain speeds and the driver manipulates the steering causing the vehicle to drift from side to side; and park-offs, where drivers gather in a group to showcase their vehicles and equipment e.g. sound systems, modified engines etc."
"Illegal street racing is prevalent throughout the Western Cape and across the country. In Cape Town alone there are more than 20 hotspots where racers gather and participate in these illegal activities. Illegal drag racing takes place on any day of the week, but the busiest nights tend to be Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays."
Smith said that the city conducted operations focusing on illegal street racing twice and sometimes even three times a week.
"The operations last until the early hours of the morning as the racers usually operate until 03:00 or 04:00 in the morning. Officers usually remain in the area until racers have dispersed for the night.
"Those caught racing can be arrested for reckless and negligent driving. If the vehicle that they are driving is modified or does not meet the roadworthy standards, it can be impounded. The vehicle’s licence token can also be destroyed and the owner can be compelled to report to a vehicle testing station within 14 days with the vehicle in a roadworthy condition."
He added that if residents see illegal drag racing taking place, they should assist by identifying the drivers, noting the registration numbers and relevant distinguishing marks of the vehicles, and lodging a case for investigation with the SAPS.
"They will then need to appear in court to present evidence. While Traffic Services will continue to clamp down on illegal drag racers, we need the community’s help too. Hundreds of people are often found supporting illegal drag races which encourages this trend of reckless and negligent driving. As in the past, we appeal to the public to work with us to help us bring this dangerous practice to an end."
Smith encouraged residents to who witness illegal street racing to immediately report the matter to the City’s emergency call centre number by dialling 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or to the Safety and Security communication centre on 021 596 1999. Complaints can also be reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) for further investigation.