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Royal support for Unisa road safety meeting

Community members gather for the meeting.

On 29 November 2018, the Institute for Dispute Resolution in Africa (IDRA) and the Department of Police Practice, both in Unisa’s College of Law (CLAW), hosted a road safety awareness event in the community of Makapanstad, the seat of the Moretele Local Municipality in the North West province.

In attendance were the spokesperson of the Road Traffic Management Corporations (RTMC), National Taxi Alliance (NTA), King Nchaupe Makapan III, Fire and Emergency services from Moretele, Makapanstad primary school teachers, Makapanstad primary school scholar patrols and the local traffic departments. Through Lekgotla La Batho, its community engaged participatory research project, IDRA has been engaging with the community and issues of road safety emerged constantly. A number of deaths occurred in this area due to road-safety-related issues. This initiative was graced by an attendance of national spokespersons exchanging views, opinions, ideas and future initiatives on road safety.

Road safety is a concern for all South Africans, and, through this initiative, it was evident that the community was given an opportunity to engage with the relevant stakeholders on road safety issues in the community. Dr Motlatso Mlambo, an IDRA Senior Researcher, highlighted the purpose of the event by mentioning that tomorrow’s road accidents should be prevented at all cost. She indicated that, according to the World Health Organisation, road accidents are the ninth leading cause of death worldwide.

In line with Sustainable Development Goals numbers 3 and 11, communities need to have healthy people and safe communities not affected by road-related issues. Some of the most honoured guests in this initiative were the scholar patrols. A representative from RTMC, Lucky Mabasa, emphasised the need for the community to not only recognise scholar patrols but to also respect them.

He further stated that the local traffic authorities should support the children in scholar patrols by being there with them for the morning and afternoon patrols. The community agreed with his assertion and they (the community) pleaded with the teachers to supervise the learners as they executed their patrol duties.

A representative from the National Taxi Alliance, Theo Malele, stated that he was aware that communities were concerned about taxis that did not abide by the rules of the road and he pleaded with the communities to report such behaviour. He further mentioned that road safety is a community effort and that to prevent the fatalities, rules must be observed and followed. In support of Malele’s plea, the local Moretele Fire and Emergency Services asked the community at large to respect the sirens and to give way in matters of urgency.

Teachers from Makapanstad Primary School applauded the willingness of the Makapanstad Traditional Council to host events where unique ideas and views are exchanged to move the community forward. Additionally, the teachers asserted that road safety should be a part of the school’s curriculum and that a long-term educational investment in the learners would bear positive results tomorrow. The local traffic department noted the lack of speed bumps in the community and this initiative was used to address the challenges of the lack of road signs and the presence of animals on the roads.

Marietjie Bekker (RTMC), Macdonald Rammala (IDRA), Dr Zemariam Yonattan, Lucky Mabasa (RTMC), Dr Motlatso Mlambo (IDRA) & Dr Dumisani Mabunda

Comments from JN Tlhabane, community member and an IDRA community researcher, alluded to the fact that the abuse of alcohol is problematic in the road fatalities that are happening in the community. He further stated that there are children as young as 6 years and when they cross the road, they need assistance and that the community should be active in helping these children to be vigilant.

A representative of the RTMC, Marietjie Bekker, emphasised the importance of cooperation in curbing road fatalities in the communities. She stated that in order to tackle the issues around road safety, an inclusive participatory process must be followed; meaning that the parents, the elderly, teachers and the local leaders must take responsibility and engage on matters of road safety. Lekgotla is one of the processes of resolving disputes in the community and the traditional council did mention that some of the road safety issues are indeed matters of discussions in their meeting. Lencoe Makapan, Bakgatla Ba Mosethla Executive Secretary, mentioned that these issues were reported to the relevant authorities but the responses are dragging.

Makapanstad Primary School learners

In closing, King Nchaupe Makapan III thanked the participants and the guests for this initiative in his community. He further stated that road fatalities are claiming lives in the community and that it is good to engage with stakeholders who can contribute to peace and harmony in the community. He emphasised that the community is willing to cooperate with authorities on road safety matters and that the different departments are welcome to initiate or create programmes that empower the community on road safety.

Resolutions that were adopted at this initiative will trickle over into the New Year and the community is at the centre of the discussion. IDRA, together with all the stakeholders, will maintain contact and build on this initiative with the intention to define tomorrow. Seminars, workshops and dialogues on road safety are to follow early in the New Year. Road safety is a national problem and through this initiative, varying solutions will emerge to assist communities.

*By Macdonald Rammala

Publish date: 2019-01-14 00:00:00.0