Sunday Times STLive By SASHNI PATHER, 2011-01-09

SA's celebrity road hogs

Free State politician Dan Kgothule is not the only prominent South African to have zoomed his way into driving notoriety.

The MEC for sport, arts and culture is one of several high-profile figures to have landed in trouble for driving too fast - in his case, at 235km/h. Now authorities say they have had enough.

"We are applying an enforcement strategy, no matter who you are," said Road Traffic Management spokesman Ashref Ismail.

The national rolling enforcement campaign aims to check one million cars every month and speedsters had better beware.

Ismail said the campaign would relentlessly pursue those who broke the speed limit.

"We have identified 85 hazardous locations where the most fatalities occur and these include our national roads. Some of the routes include the N2, N1, N12 and the R573. This decision has been informed by statistics that show where people are dying," Ismail said.

This campaign will include speed timing exercises and the use of digital cameras.

"We will also make use of unmarked patrol vehicles that are equipped with moving violation recorders, which have been a great success. In total 35 speedsters were nabbed this way over the festive period," he said.

These recorders are able to ascertain the exact speed of a car that is being followed by authorities.

"In KwaZulu-Natal we are also piloting a project where it's possible to calculate the average speed from, for example, one toll to another. The tolls act as markers and the distance travelled is divided by time to determine the speed travelled," Ismail said.

Plans over Easter include the use of light aircraft for aerial surveillance in conjunction with unmarked patrol cars on the ground.

The national rolling enforcement plan has seen more than 4429000 vehicles and drivers checked and more than two million fines issued for various driver and vehicle-fitness offences since October 1.

More than seven thousand drivers have been arrested for drinking and driving, reckless and negligent driving, (including excessive speed), overloading of public passenger transport vehicles, fraudulent documentation, stolen items and bribery.

More than 26000 vehicles were impounded or discontinued for being grossly unroadworthy or not having the correct public transport documentation.

Over the years many prominent South Africans, ranging from businessmen to celebrities, have been caught for speeding and other traffic offences. They include:

  • Pick n Pay chief executive Sean Summers paid a spot fine of R3000 in the Germiston Magistrate's Court in August 2006 after being caught doing 186km/h in a 120km/h zone in his Ferrari;
  • In August 2009 5FM DJ Thato "Fresh" Sikwane was fined R5 000 after he was caught driving his VW Touareg at 161km/h in a 120km/h zone. In a statement read out to the court, he said: "I knew that my actions were wrong and therefore punishable by law";
  • Free State Sport, Arts and Culture MEC Dan Kgothule ended last year on a sour note when he was caught driving at 235km/h in a 120km/h zone. This week he pleaded guilty and was fined R20000 in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court;
  • In February 2010, controversial kwaito star Mandoza made headlines again after the yellow Mini Cooper he was travelling in crashed into a palm tree in the northwestern Johannesburg suburb of Weltevreden Park. It was his second accident in two years. In 2009 he was found guilty of culpable homicide after two people died in an accident;
  • The trial of hip-hop star Molemo "Jub Jub" Maarohanye will continue this year in the Protea Magistrate's Court. Maarohanye and co-accused Themba Tshabalala face four murder charges following an accident in March last year in which four schoolchildren were killed and two others critically injured. Maarohanye and Tshabalala were allegedly racing their Mini Coopers through the streets at the time;
  • Pretoria High Court Judge Nkola Motata last year lost his application to appeal against his drunk driving conviction. In 2007, Motata crashed his Jaguar into the wall of businessman Richard Baird's house in Hurlingham, Johannesburg, while driving drunk;
  • Strip club king Lolly Jackson was arrested last January for allegedly driving at 122km/h in an 80km/h zone in his Pagani Zonda sports car. Jackson told police he was being a good Samaritan and trying to get an accident victim to hospital. In 2005 he had to pay R20000 after being caught driving at 249km/h in a Lamborghini on the N3 South in Edenvale on the East Rand. He was murdered in May last year.