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Johannesburg - Transport Minister Dipuo Peters's announcement that 1376 people were killed on South Africa's roads during the festive season was not credible, an advanced driving skills company said on Thursday.

“Between December 1 and December 31, the death toll reached 1184. That's 38.19 deaths a day,” managing director Rob Handfield-Jones said in a statement.

“However, the government is claiming that in the next seven days, 192 additional deaths occurred at 27.14 deaths per day. How is it possible that the daily death toll could drop by one-third?”

Peters told reporters in Pretoria that 1376 people were killed in 1147 crashes between December 1 and January 7.


Department spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso said Handfield-Jones should provide scientific evidence for his assertions, as people often spent Christmas and New Year's in different places, which altered traffic patterns.

“It is a matter of people deciding where to spend Christmas and new year's. Different people decide how long they stay on holiday. It is a bit mischievous to make such a claim,” he said.

“The number of crashes is proportional to the number of vehicles on our roads. I don't see on what basis he is questioning the statistics.”

He said as the number of vehicles on the roads declined, accidents would decrease.

“If that is the basis of his question, he should provide the scientific evidence to back his claim. It is a simple, straightforward matter.”


Handfield-Jones said the same distortion took place with the 2012/2013 festive season data.

If the daily death rate from December was used, the actual death toll would be closer to 1450, and would likely exceed that if the coming weekend's holiday traffic was taken into account.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation's (RTMC) data was also not credible, and it almost three years behind with its annual statistics. It had still not released the final death toll from the 2012/2013 festive season.

“Today's (Thursday's) announcement cannot be regarded as anything more than a publicity stunt,” said Handfield-Jones.

Peters stressed that they were preliminary figures.

“It is with a great sense of duty and accountability for us as the transport sector to release to the South African public statistics on road crashes and the impact that the crashes have,” she said.

The RTMC was not available for comment. -Sapa