1,600 people killed on the roads of S.Africa during holidays

1,600 people killed on the roads of S.Africa during holidays

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Officials say that accidents in South Africa are often the result of driving under the influence or speeding

Officials say that accidents in South Africa are often the result of driving under the influence or speeding

South Africa promised tougher penalties for reckless road users after more than 1,600 people were killed in road accidents during the six-week party season, the Transport Minister said on Wednesday.

Speaking with reporters in the capital Pretoria, Blade Nzimande said 1,612 people have died in 1,286 road accidents between December 1, 2018 and January 8, 2019.

Excessive driving and drunken driving contributed greatly to the increase in the number of deaths by seven percent compared to the previous year.

"Our roads remain slaughterhouses," said Nzimande. "More than 80 percent of accidents are due to the human factor, such as drunk driving and driving and texting."

The department had almost doubled the number of roadblocks in the period to 775 and arrested 8907 people during the holidays when many South Africans moved from major cities to the coast or provincial areas.

Nzimande said the government would insist on reclassifying drunken driving and introducing heavier penalties for offenders.

The department will also be stricter for corrupt officials who take bribes and for administrative officials who issue driving licenses fraudulently.

"People are joking about how they can afford to break the rules as long as they have a reserve of 1,000 zar ($ 72) in the bag, they know they'll make their way through it," said Nzimande. "We come to them in a big way."

During the holiday, 17 traffic cops were arrested for corruption.

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