Johannesburg - The rise in road fatalities over past Easter holidays has once again prompted massive warnings for motorists to drive with caution this long weekend.

Last year, 235 people died on South African roads over this busy weekend in a 51% increase over the previous year’s figure of 156.

The Joburg metro police department (JMPD) on Wednesday warned that the major highways leading out of the city were expected to experience heavy traffic volumes.

Members of the Zion Christian Church making their annual pilgrimage to Moria in Limpopo will also add to the road congestion over the weekend.

Still, traffic authorities said they were ready for the huge volumes, which were expected to start today.

Some of the roads expected to be busy included the N1 to Polokwane, the N4 to Nelspruit and the N3 to Durban.

These would be the big focus for law enforcement agents this weekend, according to Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesperson Simon Zwane. He urged motorists to obey the rules of the road and not to drink and drive.

JMPD spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar warned motorists to keep off the roads if they were not willing to abide by the rules.

He said the police would be out in full force setting up roadblocks across greater Joburg looking for drivers who were transgressing the law.

“We would like to wish everyone a safe Easter weekend,” Minnaar said.

“If you break the law, our officers will not hesitate to put you behind bars. Drivers with vehicles that have defects such as smooth tyres, defective wipers or no lights should expect a fine of between R250 and R1500,” Minnaar warned.

Motorists who persisted on sending texts while driving or were on their cellphones behind the wheel could expect a R500 fine. Anyone not buckled up would also be fined.

“Drunk drivers should either stay away from Joburg roads or get alternative transport home. If they don’t, we’ll breathalyse them, take them to the police station and have their blood tested before locking them up,” said Minnaar.

Joburg’s Emergency Management Services (EMS) would be on high alert throughout the long weekend, said spokesperson Nana Radebe.

“Our fire stations will be working 24/7 and we have arranged extra resources to ensure that we can speedily respond to any emergencies that may occur during this busy time,” she said.

“There will be crime prevention operations by all law enforcement agencies that will include roadblocks in major routes, stop-and-search operations as well as raids on liquor outlets.

“At station level, normal policing activities will continue,” said police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini.

The Star