Disrespect for the law

Keith Blake, community activist, Ottery

On a regular basis the safety and security arm of the City of Cape Town puts out regular media briefings where their law enforcement officers give feedback on operations and what is especially concerning is the arrest of drunken drivers.

These overindulging social criminals knowingly drink glass after glass of alcohol and then in this drunken impaired state drive onto the roads which you and I and our love ones also use and then immediately place all of us in extreme danger.

These motorists without a second thought show their total disrespect for the law, the law enforcers and for our lives and those of our family and friends being fellow drivers or pedestrians.

It amounts to the same equation of giving a child an open bottle of petrol and a box of matches and telling that child to play with their friends in the park and play Guy Fawkes. With this in mind, we then take our hats off and salute our law enforcement agencies for going out at all hours and arresting these drunken drivers. But here is where the justice support is throwing us under the wheels and if there is no penal clauses being harshly executed then the drunken drivers will still be connected by a grapevine to their seats behind the steering wheel.

Why this statement? Let me give some quotes by the City of Cape town media releases and also the response to that media outcry. On March 2 2014 I quote the following:

“The criminal justice system is currently inadequately resourced. Our officers are very successful in terms of enforcement, but we need to ensure that this process is seen through and justice is served”.

On April 13 2015 I quote: “Justice department to get additional magistrates”. On September 12 I quote: “Another weekend another round of shocking drunken driving statistics. The sad reality is that many of these motorists who are caught simply return to their bad habits because cases take so long to finalise and are eventually thrown out. We will continue seeing this type of flagrant disregard for the law as long as the system allows it”.

On reading these quotes the big questions are, has the justice department appointed additional magistrates to sit and deal with these drunken driving cases and were these magistrates of course with the prosecutors and other justice office bearers appointed in the 11 municipal courts here in the Western Cape. Has the justice department taken critical note and action to resource their capacity to deal speedily with these drunken, dangerous motorists. Has the justice system taken note of the comment that cases take too long and then get withdrawn and then the drunken drivers go back to the bottle.The justice system in the court corridors, and that includes the municipal courts, owe our road users and our law enforcement officers a justifiable legal explanation on how they are applying justice swiftly in dealing with these criminals. Silence here is not golden, we want explanations. We must be careful in not dealing with drunken drivers that are being arrested and this is my own quote and I say it with caution as I was also a police officer for 30 years but I have to say it and those reading it will know exactly what I mean – Dedication not rewarded can lead to seeing no evil.