The government has called on all South Africans to promote the responsible use of alcohol, as a spate of fatal accidents has occurred following the reopening of liquor sales under level 2 of the nationwide lockdown.
“It cannot be acceptable that three Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) officers are among the people who died in alcohol-related vehicle accidents, which occurred in Gauteng this past weekend.
“Government sends its condolences to the families and loved ones of the three officers who died in such a tragic manner,” said Government Communications (GCIS) Director-General, Phumla Williams, in a statement on Monday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week that the country would move to alert level 2 of the lockdown to further open up different sectors of the economy as the country balances the preservation of livelihoods and saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the time of his address to the nation, President Ramaphosa reminded all South Africans to continue to exercise caution and care during alert level 2 and remain ever-vigilant.
Williams said it was tragic that the positive progress the country has made towards containing the spread of COVID-19 is being dampened by reports of alcohol abuse, recklessness, and fatal vehicle crashes.
Police have confirmed that 740 suspects, including two police officers, have since been arrested for drinking and driving.
A 27-year-old constable was arrested in Sedibeng on Saturday night after driving into an accident scene, injuring a bystander.
He was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, as well as reckless and negligent driving.
A sergeant was arrested in Norwood, Johannesburg, on Thursday night after his car collided with a Metro police vehicle.
The 37-year-old was arrested on the spot and charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Williams said while many South Africans are responsible for their use of alcohol, the government and society cannot sit idle while lives are being destroyed as a result of alcohol abuse.
“We have noticed that some people do not abide by alert level 2 regulations, which place restrictions on gathering. We urge law enforcement authorities to play their role in bringing the culprits to book.
“In the midst of a pandemic, it cannot be acceptable that healthcare workers in our hospitals have to deal with high numbers of cases at trauma units as a result of alcohol.
“Although the government is committed to addressing societal issues such as alcohol abuse and the carnage on our roads, ultimately, these issues are everybody’s responsibility,” said Williams.
Government, Williams said, further appeals to the liquor industry to strengthen current efforts with government, which aim to curb the scourge of alcohol abuse.
“Alcohol abuse is also often at the heart of contact crimes, which include murder, attempted murder, sexual offences, assault resulting in grievous bodily harm, common assault, and robbery,” Williams said, adding that some families risk being totally destroyed because of the extent of alcohol abuse.
Williams said an estimated 70% of domestic violence is associated with alcohol.
“Law enforcement agencies are urged to do their part through visible enforcement, but more importantly, we urge road users, especially drivers, to take extra care and exercise the utmost vigilance on the road.
“We welcome the call from Police Minister Bheki Cele for police to be tough on alcohol consumption and driving,” she said. – SAnews.gov.za