Justice project South Africa notes the judgment handed down in a Western Cape Magistrates’ Court on Friday whereat Mr Tony Yengeni was convicted of the offence of driving under the influence of intoxicated liquor (drunken driving) and sentenced to a R30,000 fine or 90 days imprisonment, half of which was suspended for five years, which conviction arose from his arrest for the offence more than three and a half years ago. He now has to pay a fine of R15,000.
It is notable that despite being convicted of this offence, Mr Yengeni’s driving licence was not suspended for a minimum period of six months as is mandatory in terms of Section 35 of the National Road Traffic Act.
In December 2016, a speeding but sober motorist who was driving on a freeway was convicted in a KwaZulu-Natal Magistrates’ Court, sentenced to a R40,000 fine, where no suspended portion applied thereto, but also suspended his driving licence for twelve months.
Both, the Road Traffic Management Corporation and the Minister of Transport publicly vilified the Magistratein that matter, holding that the man’s driving licence should have been cancelled, as opposed to being suspended.
In 2008, it was revealed by the NIMSS that almost 58% of drivers killed in road traffic crashes had blood alcohol levels in excess of three times the “legal limit” of less than 0,05g per 100ml of blood sampled. It is therefore our considered opinion that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs should be considered to be a very serious crime indeed and the sentences handed down by our courts should reflect this when people are convicted of the crime. Mr Yengeni’s blood alcohol level was apparently five times the “legal limit”.
We trust that the RTMC and Minister will express a similar level of outrage in relation to Mr Yengeni’s matter to that they expressed in the KZN speeding matter.