Rock throwing threat must be tackled
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.