Transport Minister Blade Nzimande. File photo: ANA

Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance has raised questions about the purported drop in Easter weekend road accident fatalities announced by Transport Minister Blade Nzimande this week, and called on him to "stop lying to South Africans about your Easter road safety campaign".

"The media is reporting your claims; that the number of fatalities across all provinces has 'massively decreased' by 48 percent. They further blindly and without investigating your statements, report that the fatality figure dropped to 162 this year from 309 deaths last year," DA spokesman Manny de Freitas said in an open letter to Nzimande.

He said Nzimande had made it crystal clear that the statistics covered the period of April 18 to 22, 2019. These five days were traditionally defined as Easter statistics in the narrow sense. "However, when I look at your statements made on the Easter period last year you indicated that the 2018 period would be defined different, namely from 29 March 2018 to 9 April 2018, making the 2018 Easter period 11 days.

DA MP Manny de Freitas. File photo: Twitter

"Throughout all your statements you consistently compare the 2019 statistics to those of 2018 without any qualification. You Mr Minister, are being disingenuous and sly with the South African public. It is obvious when comparing statistics between the 11 days in 2018 and the five days in 2019 that all statistics will reduce," De Freitas said.

"I would be most interested in obtaining the daily statistics per province for this year. I wouldn’t be surprised that after comparing the 2018 and 2019 Easter days as narrowly defined, we find that we continue to slide or improve only marginally. However, I must congratulate you on your forethought last year in ensuring that you included more Easter days then so that this year, only days before a national and provincial election, you could announced an improvement in road safety statistics," he said.

The latest International Transport Forum's road safety annual report and international report stated that the number of annual road deaths had increased every year between 2013 and 2016 and continued to rise.

The report further stated that this had a “significant impact” on South African society and its economy. According to the report, the total cost of road crashes in 2017 amounted to an estimated R162.05 billion, or 3.5 percent of GDP, De Freitas said.

African News Agency (ANA)