… As Police Descend on Traffic Offenders
By Petronella Sibeene
Hundreds of motorists appeared before court for failing to comply with traffic rules and regulations during the recent Easter holiday.
While most officials at courts could not spare a minute to speak to the press saying they were too busy, by 12h00 yesterday, the Windhoek Magistrate Court had registered more than 305 cases since Easter started last Thursday night.
When New Era visited the court, visibly agitated offenders were waiting outside the courtroom while others appeared before magistrate Claudia Claassen.
Superintendent Gerhard Kakonda from the Traffic Management Unit told the news team that since Thursday, the E-court has been busy with traffic-related cases ranging from using cell-phones while driving to some motorists caught with seatbelts not strapped.
Statistics show that 98 percent of those who appeared before court pleaded guilty and paid a fine of N$300.
Trials were fair as suspects were given a chance to bring in their lawyers.
However, fines paid after defence and pleading guilty ran into thousands. In one such case, a driver of a bus heading for Zimbabwe was fined N$6 000 last Friday for overloading. In another case, a young man paid a N$1 000 fine for driving a vehicle on the national roads without the council’s authorisation certificate.
Most cases brought before court are related to using cellphone while driving, ignoring the use of seatbelts and driving through red traffic lights, Kakonda said.
During the Easter break, the Windhoek magistrate court opened from 08h00 till 17h00 but yesterday, it opened till 21h45.
The exercise is part of Xupifa Eemwenyo campaign launched on the eve of the Easter holiday.
Court appearances have also been taking place in towns such as Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Otjiwarongo, Ondangwa, and Oshakati. Mobile courts are also in use in places such as Karasburg, Oshana and Omusati.
In most cases, traffic officers issue a ticket for the traffic rule offender to appear on a certain date in court but according to Kakonda, this has weakened the system, as most offenders would not appear in court on a set date. Further, they give fake addresses.
“We are trying by all means to refer them straight to court to plead guilty or not. It appears as if law enforcement agencies have been invisible, there should be a change”, added Kakonda.
Law enforcers were checking on the fitness of a driver as well as vehicle roadworthiness, overloading, seatbelts, cellphone use and other relevant requirements for road users.
Constable Petrus Nadilu positioned at the Okahandja roadblock, known as one of the busiest roads, said generally people who drove through the Okahandja roadblock complied with the rules with very few cases of non-compliance recorded.
A customs officer at the same spot similarly recorded no cases of immigration rules being violated.
Last week Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Joel Kaapanda, urged traffic law enforcement officers to be tough on operators who do not adhere to road regulations.
He said although the legal instruments that address aspects related to how the road should be used, vehicle registration, driver and vehicle fitness, driver training and testing are in place non-compliance to these rules and regulations by motorists remains a great concern.
This leads to the launch of a one-month lone pilot project Xupifa Eemwenyo which is equally, a response to President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s call for a lasting solution to reduce ever increasing road accidents cases.
Five regions have been identified as accident-prone these being Khomas with the highest accident rate of 5 944, Erongo (1318), Otjozondjupa (956), Oshana (900) and Karas (484). These regions except for the Karas, account for 80 percent of all accidents.
The current escalation in death toll calls for concerted effort by all Namibians to inculcate a new culture of discipline and safety consciousness, he said.
“Since the campaign was launched, the number of accidents have been minimized”, said Kakonda.
The month long campaign will review the success and setbacks, which will help role players in this field draw the national safety management system for Namibia.