South Africa’s national roads saw increases in traffic volumes yesterday as motorists headed home from their holidays. By yesterday afternoon, traffic was backing up at toll gates on all of the country’’s national highways.
At 4.30pm yesterday 1924 cars were moving through the Middleburg toll plaza on the N4 highway in Mpumalanga. At about the same time the north bound toll gates on the N1 highway at the Tugela plaza in KwaZulu Natal were recording 1980 cars an hour.
The high numbers, said AA spokesman Marius Luyt, are a usual concern as most of the country’’s fatal accidents happen on the N1, N2 and N3. “When compare this year to previous years, the figure of 1143 fatalities released on December 24 is high,” said Luyt.
He added that traffic volumes might be staggered this year by the unusual occurrence of a dramatic petrol price decrease. Petrol could drop by as much as R1,27 on Wednesday. “When you consider this could save motorists as much as R170 on a trip from Cape Town to Johannesburg, people might decide to stay longer,,” he said.
ER 24 spokesman Werner Vermaak said yesterday that it was quiet for this time of year. The most serious accident, they responded to by yesterday afternoon was a car that rolled on the N1 near Bloemfontein, in the Free State. The accident happened yesterday morning and a six-year-old girl had to be airlifted to Bloemfontein after she lost her leg. The girl’’s parents received less serious injuries.
In Margate, Arrive Alive reported that an eight-year-old girl sustained serious injuries after she fell from a three metre high wall at holiday flats in Margate, in KwaZulu Natal on Saturday night. She was taken, by Netcare 911 paramedics to hospital in a serious condition. Meanwhile in Cape Town, tragedy was averted when a woman rescued a 3-month old baby. Pierrene Strimling was at a red light when she noticed something unusual.
“I was at the corner of Belvedere and Lansdowne roads when I saw a woman who looked like she was shouting at me. But it was at a man on the opposite side of the road. I turned my car around to see what was happening. There was a mother passed out drunk on the other side of the road and her baby was rolling around,” she said.
Strimling took the baby to the Claremont police station where they got in touch with social services and looked for the parents of the baby. Strimling said the father was “just as drunk as the mother“.
The employer of the woman was found, notified and the baby girl, who was unharmed, handed over to him by social services.
–Shaun Smillie and Jerome Cornelius