Rock throw­ing threat must be tack­led

Zululand Observer - Monday - - ZO OPINION -

The re­cent spate of rock throw­ing in­ci­dents in KZN, in­clud­ing the lat­est at­tack on the N2 high­way near Mtun­zini last week, de­mands that lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and com­mu­ni­ties come up with ur­gent in­ter­ven­tion mea­sures.

This crim­i­nal phe­nom­e­non has claimed lives coun­try­wide, in­still­ing much fear and panic among lo­cal mo­torists who fre­quently com­mute on the N2, es­pe­cially at night. Em­pan­geni motorist Bran­den Kipps may have es­caped se­ri­ous in­jury and a po­ten­tial hi­jack­ing this time around, but the crim­i­nal modus operandi needs to be se­ri­ously ad­dressed in Zu­l­u­land.

In Dur­ban for ex­am­ple, the oc­cur­rences have sparked in­ter­ven­tions in­volv­ing the South African Na­tional Roads Agency, the Road Traf­fic In­spec­torate, metro po­lice and the eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Mu­nic­i­pal law en­force­ment agen­cies now de­ploy peo­ple to mon­i­tor ac­tiv­ity at key routes and bridges and the SAPS has in­tro­duced more reg­u­lar pa­trols in ar­eas where rock throw­ing re­mains a threat.

This has not only de­terred sus­pects loi­ter­ing over bridges, but has also re­duced the num­ber of mug­gings in­volv­ing pedes­tri­ans on over­passes.

The SAPS and metro po­lice have also been hold­ing reg­u­lar ‘rock throw­ing com­mit­tee meet­ings’ to come up with ways to curb in­ci­dents.

As part of a more sus­tain­able long-term so­lu­tion to the prob­lem, eThek­wini is look­ing at con­struct­ing steel cages over bridges, erect­ing closed­cir­cuit tele­vi­sion cam­eras and im­prov­ing light­ing on bridges.

A dis­turb­ing claim that towtruck op­er­a­tors al­legedly pay des­per­ate peo­ple to throw rocks off bridges to cause ac­ci­dents, is also be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

With dodgy op­er­a­tors giv­ing the in­dus­try a bad name, a de­ci­sion has since been taken to dis­al­low tow-truck op­er­a­tors from be­ing sta­tioned un­der bridges or on nearby pave­ments.

Rock throw­ing on high­ways also made in­ter­na­tional head­lines last week.

In south­ern Aus­tralia an un­prece­dented spate of rock throw­ing at­tacks, in­clud­ing two in­ci­dents last week, has seen a to­tal of 37 in­ci­dents on the South Ex­press­way since the be­gin­ning of the year.

Mounted, bi­cy­cle and dog units have been de­ployed at the over­passes and em­bank­ments next to the South­ern Ex­press­way along with pa­trols both overt and covert.

None of the above-men­tioned in­ter­ven­tions have been in­tro­duced in Zu­l­u­land, and while not all mea­sures may work prac­ti­cally in our largely ru­ral lo­ca­tions, more strate­gic ses­sions must be held to tackle the threat.

Com­mu­nity lead­ers, in­clud­ing aMakhosi and iZin­duna, should also be roped in to en­sure con­stituents within their ju­ris­dic­tion are not part of this crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.

The se­ri­ous is­sue needs to be ad­dressed at com­mu­nity level to re­store sta­bil­ity and pre­vent loss of in­no­cent lives.

In the in­terim, mo­torists have been urged to be ob­ser­vant when ap­proach­ing bridges and not to stop un­der any cir­cum­stance, but rather to re­main calm and drive to the near­est po­lice sta­tion or ser­vice sta­tion from where they can call the po­lice.

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