News / South Africa

Yadhana Jadoo
3 minute read
18 Apr 2018
6:15 am

Easter road deaths soar to 510 fatalities

Yadhana Jadoo

These incidents were mainly among the poor and working class, with human error a major factor, the transport minister says.

The scene of an accident on the M4.

Transport Minister Blade Nzimande has released a horrifying preliminary report showing a significant rise of 14% in deaths on South Africa’s roads over the Easter period.

Releasing his report into fatal crashes, Nzimande said these incidents were among the poor and working class, disproportionately more than other groups, with human error playing a major factor.

“This Easter there was a noticeable shift towards the rural poor who use the roads as pedestrians,” said the minister.

“Key among them is that there were four major crashes that took place in rural areas. Two of them happened in KwaZulu-Natal – Greytown and Taylor’s Halt – and the other two in Limpopo – Diperere village and near Mabula Lodge in the Waterfall district.

“Together, these four crashes claimed 345 lives and left 26 injured. These crashes happen where they were least expected and on roads that do not normally experience a high number of fatal crashes.”

He said despite efforts to reduce accidents, there was still an unfortunate increase to 510 fatalities recorded from March 29 to April 9, compared with 449 who died in the same period last year.

“It is very concerning that some unwarranted behaviours continued unabated and this has been ably demonstrated by the successful arrests of 6 435 drivers who were caught speeding; 3 208 drivers driving unlicensed vehicles; 300 drivers without driver’s licenses; 2 344 drivers without fastening seat belts; and 1 698 drivers driving vehicles with worn tires.”

Light motor vehicles accounted for 44.6% of the crashes, almost the same as last year, said Nzimande.

“Bakkies or light delivery vehicles accounted for the second-highest number of vehicle collisions at 21.2%, minibuses were third recording a 1% decrease to 9% and buses were stable at 1.7%.”

Most accidents occurred on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 5pm and 8pm, despite critical routes with high accident rates being identified and traffic law enforcement intensified.

The majority of crashes happened on unnamed village roads in Limpopo, as well as on the N2, N4 and the R518.

“The most affected rural district municipalities in Limpopo are Vhembe, Waterberg, Mopani and Greater Sekhukhune,” said the minister.

“Other affected municipalities were Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, City of Tshwane, Capricorn, Ehlanzeni, City of Joburg, City of Cape Town, Joe Gqabi, Lejweleputswa, ZF Mgcawu and Nkangala.”


  • The main contributory factors to road fatalities are related to human behaviour, with male drivers accounting for 71.1% of fatalities and females 24.1%.
  • This year, human factor contributed 89.5% to the crashes, compared with 74.3% last year.
  • Hit-and-runs decreased by 16.1% this year, compared with 22.8% last year.
  • A truck drivers’ strike on April 2 added to the total shut down of the N3 and all alternative routes in Mooi River, KwaZulu-Natal. Easter Monday is one of the busiest days during this period.
  • This led to more than five hours’ delay for motorists who were making their way from the KwaZulu-Natal coastal areas to the central areas, Nzimande said.
  • Huge delays were also experienced in Polokwane, Limpopo, on the same day as motorists were stuck in traffic congestion and were unable to drive out of the inner city to the N1.

Also read: Gauteng authorities concerned about increase in pedestrian fatalities

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