The Democratic Alliance has submitted a series of questions in the provincial legislature to determine why the state of the art Alcohol Evidence Centre in Port Elizabeth is not operational despite the huge need to combat drunken driving on our roads. For the questions, click here.
Effective law enforcement and successful prosecution is the best way to combat drunken driving yet our province has failed to ensure the centre remains operational.
The Alcohol Evidence Centre, housed in the provincial traffic control centre in Port Elizabeth, was launched with much publicity in June last year but only operated for the duration of the Soccer World Cup. It has not been operational since then. Why?
State of the art equipment should not be lying idle when drunken drivers threaten our safety on the roads.
The object of the centre was to assist in intensifying the war against drunken driving. According to a press release by the Department of Transport on 10 June 2010 the establishment of this Alcohol Evidence Centre would ensure:
* No more inefficient and ineffective blood testing;
* Significant reduction in processing time;
* Significant increase in arrest;
* No more lost or damaged evidence;
* Plus minus 85 percent of those charged admit guilt; and
* Plus minus 95 percent of cases contested in court are won.
At the time of the launch a spokesperson for the Department of Safety and Liaison said the aim of the centre was to ensure the law around drunken driving was upheld and that it was line with the provincial crime prevention strategy to uphold the moral fibre of the people of the Eastern Cape.
There is a massive correlation between our high crime rate and alcohol misuse. South Africa holds the global record for the highest number of people subject to alcohol related harm. Sixty percent of all drivers who lose their lives do so directly or indirectly as a result of drunken driving.
The provincial government must pull out all stops to combat alcohol abuse where it can and getting the Evidence Centre fully operational is a good start.