Mandatory retests for drivers on the cards
LICENCES for non-public service vehicle drivers should expire so that they are re-examined to assess competence and suitability as a means to curb road carnage, a parliamentary portfolio committee has proposed.
The reforms, if adopted, would also include the commercialisation of the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) to ensure it operates efficiently.
Only drivers of public service vehicles undergo periodic tests, which include competence and physical status checks to assess suitability to continue driving on the country’s roads.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development chairperson Cde Dexter Nduna said the reforms would be in keeping with international best practices. “Our licences are the only ones which do not expire while a lot changes in the course of one’s life with some having constrained eyesight and other physical changes which limits their competence to remain on our roads,” said Cde Nduna.
“The licences are the only ones which do not expire and yet the owner can lose some of their faculties thereby putting the life of others at risk.”
The call comes at a time when statistics show that 85 percent of road accidents are a result of human error.
Cde Nduna said age also plays a key role in judgement, eyesight and reaction to situations.
In some countries, for instance driving is restricted to 75 years with special dispensation for some types of roads after undergoing assessment.
On the commercialisation of VID, Cde Nduna said this would include computerisation and integration of all departments including the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR), which issues licences into the transport system.
It is expected that this would curb corruption that has forced a significant number of people to clandestinely get certificates of competence. This would include increasing the number of VID inspection and testing depots to 38 from the current 23 to boost revenue and dividend to Government.
VID is realising about $2 million per month translating to around $24 million per year which is expected to grow to around $110 million with the implementation of the reforms.
“Commercialisation of VID will broaden the revenue base for both the department and government,” said Cde Nduna.
He said the inspection role of VID would be extended to non-public service vehicles which bear the black on yellow number plates.
Officials in the ministry however, hinted on the existence of such proposals which are believed to be at various levels of implementation and consideration.
Minister Dr Joram Gumbo referred technocrats in the ministry for clarification.
“These are technical issues and operational issues, technical people should respond,” he said. all questions to AN umalayitsha from Bulawayo with his South African wife and two other cross border drivers allegedly killed Zimbabwean travellers, raped dozens, kidnapped more than 100 and extorted cash from others.
The quartet was arrested in July last year and are facing 62 charges ranging from murder, rape, robbery, extortion and assault against fellow countrymen south of the Limpopo River.
They would allegedly lure hikers to Johannesburg from Musina and later attack them at secluded houses in the neighbouring country, during a two month crime spree.
They allegedly demanded at least R3 000 ransom from their victim’s families and raped, severely assaulted or killed those whose relatives failed to pay. The gang, allegedly part of a larger syndicate that preys on hikers at Musina, is set to appear at the Palm Ridge High Court in Johannesburg between October 10 and November 4.
They are accused of killing Olga Gwena (25) of Chitungwiza and Esther Mwenda of Harare, among others.
Charles Cecil Brewer (36), alias Boss of Nketa 7 in Bulawayo, his South African wife, Madida Petition Sicelo (30) alias Sister, Jaheni ‘Satan’ Luphahla (28) of Old Lobengula in Bulawayo and Phathumuzi ‘KK’ Sibanda (27) of Emakhandeni in Bulawayo are accused of committing the offences between May 30 and July 11 last year.
They have been languishing in remand prison since their arrest in July last year and were denied bail at the Thembisa magistrate’s court in Johannesburg before the matter was transferred to the High Court. Luphahla allegedly earned the Satan moniker in the South African underworld for reputedly being “wicked than Lucifer himself.”
The case has been dragging on as the accused have been struggling to get a lawyer after dumping the state’s free legal practitioners.
Officials close to investigations said yesterday: “The gang is believed to be part of a syndicate targeting mostly women travelling between Musina and Johannesburg in Gauteng Province. “They were picked up during a police sting operation in Musina on 25 July. The accused persons have been positively identified by most of the victims,” said the source.
The official said Brewer and Madida were identified as the drivers of a white Opel registration numbers SNB949GP and a red Hyundai Matrix registration numbers ND462078.
The syndicate operates from Total and Engen filling stations and a house in Musina, targeting Zimbabwean hitch-hikers travelling to Gauteng province.
The State has subpoenaed more than 100 witnesses to testify against the four. Brewer, who is allegedly the mastermind of the orgy of crimes, has reportedly approached the prosecution for a plea bargain.
He allegedly wants to turn into a key State witness to expose other members of his syndicate, who became elusive following his arrest last year. It is said they used South African registered private vehicles and touts to lure victims into their cars.
After kidnapping and detaining the travellers at various houses upon reaching Johannesburg, the gang would turn violent and would strip their hostages of various valuables including money. They would then call the victims’ relatives and demand money for their release. The amounts which ranged from R3 000 would be paid through money agencies that include Shoprite, PEP, Spar or Cambridge stores.
Zimbabwe’s Consul General to South Africa, Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro said despite the arrest of Brewer and his accomplices they continued to receive reports of Zimbabweans who are being terrorised in the same manner.
He urged Zimbabweans to always use registered public transport vehicles, especially conventional buses when travelling to the neighbouring country. “We would like to emphasise the Government of Zimbabwe’s gratitude, to our hosts, for the continual assistance rendered through the South African Police Services (SAPS) and other law enforcement agencies in ensuring that justice prevails,” he said.