Lawlessness on city roads has long been a problem that continues to worsen due to a lack of visible policing.
Saturday’s Weekend Witness, reported that traffic officers are not being equipped with adequate tools of trade to enforce the rules of the road.
Traffic cops claim Msunduzi Municipality has not provided them with the necessary equipment needed to enforce the law, including breathalysers, bullet-proof vests and pepper spray.
As a result officers have to smell people’s breath and make them walk in a straight line to determine whether they are drunk.
This also puts officers’ lives in danger, as they have no means of defending themselves against violent offenders when enforcing the law.
This must be extremely demoralising for these officers. As a cop questioned in the article said: “How are we supposed to deal with people who are fighting us without pepper spray?”
Moreover, are lawless and drunk drivers going to take law enforcement seriously when met with officers who can’t defend themselves, or efficiently identify lawless behaviour?
This amounts to sending soldiers into battle unarmed and expecting them to return victorious.
How can one expect traffic officers to uphold the law, when they themselves are not protected and empowered to perform their duties?
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DA caucus leader Ross Strachan stressed the connection between a poorly resourced traffic department and the safety of the city.
“Without a capable traffic department, the city is unsafe and lawless, which in effect causes serious danger to our residents and road users,” Strachan said.
Tackling lawlessness and crime in the city starts with ensuring that the rules of the road are enforced.
This is where criminals can be flagged and stopped before they proceed to commit further crimes.
The city has a responsibility to play their part in fighting crime by ensuring its officers are properly equipped to uphold the law.
It starts with arming them with effective tools to perform their duties with diligence and dignity.