World Health Day Event on Tuesday, 6 April 2004 at Delvera Farm in Stellenbosch
"I will never forget that phone call! Not as long as I live. I felt as if somebody tore out a piece of my own heart that day. My son was thirsty; he was just going to have a drink of water on the other side, when he was knocked down and killed." These were the words of a mother of a 6year old boy, as she recalled getting a telephone call at work on 15 July 2003.
There are several other mothers from the Klapmuts community who have lost their children on the R44 that connects the N1 highway to Stellenbosch. Each one can relate a sad experience.
"I can't feel the pain of those mothers, but I can try to understand how they feel," says Health Minister, Mr Piet Meyer. "The needless deaths and disabilities caused by road traffic injuries must stop!"
WHO global awareness campaign
For this reason the World Health Organisation is calling for a global awareness campaign to help us remember that we have a mutual responsibility to keep our roads safe for the use of pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and fellow motorists. According to the World Health Organisation, 1.2 million people in the world die each year due to road traffic injuries. The Child Accident Prevention Foundation of South Africa (CAPFSA) has confirmed that the victims of road traffic injuries in South Africa are mostly child pedestrians and passengers.
Many factors contribute to the high number of children dying each year on our roads. Children are often transported on the back of bakkies; mothers breast-feed babies in moving vehicles; drivers allow children to stand in the front seats in moving vehicles; and children are not being supervised when using the road. Other factors such as speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol have caused many losses of lives.
World Health Day celebrated with Road Safety Event
Traditionally World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April, but the road safety awareness campaign will be launched in the Western Cape on Tuesday, 6 April 2004 at Delvera Farm in Stellenbosch. The R44-South (Strand road) and North (Klapmuts road) is the focus for this awareness campaign. The R44 has been known to the Klapmuts community as the 'road of death', where many lives have been lost.
The Traffic Department Service recorded 214 accidents on the R44 between January 2003 and March 2004, in which 69 people either died or were seriously injured. The Klapmuts community has endured immense suffering and loss, which has to stop now. The reinforcement of responsible road usage will continue through the erection of more 'Bus Shelters of Remembrance' along the R44. A suggestion from the Traffic Department is that schools be supplied with reflective bands for learners to improve their visibility when using the road. The compulsory incorporation of reflective strips into school uniforms and satchels can reduce road traffic accidents among children. The Klapmuts community welcomed the interest of the Department of Health and other role players such as, Transport (Arrive Alive), Education (Safe School Projects), and the management at the Delheim Farm. "The support of all the stakeholders to create and reinforce the awareness of responsible road usage is overwhelming," say members of the community. "We really welcome their involvement in trying to solve this terrible problem."
Road Safety Event
The event takes the form of the commemoration of those who have died or have been permanently disabled due to road accidents on the R44. The erection of the Kromme Rhee 'Bus Shelter of Remembrance' will take place on 6 April 2004. Learners from J.J Rhode and Koelenhof Primary Schools within the community have had the opportunity to create a lasting picture of a lost relative or friend or a road safety message on a ceramic tile which will be used to cover the Kromme Rhee bus shelter. The Minister of Health, Mr. Piet Meyer, will lay the last symbolic tile carrying his signature to complete the shelter.
The aim is to enconscientise motorists and pedestrians using the R44 and to provide a safe pick-up point for public transport. "The Road Safety Awareness campaign can bring about significant behavioural changes if effectively supported by legislation and enforcement on seat belts and the transportation of children in general, " said Minister Meyer.
Issued by: Department of Health, Western Cape
Date: 31 March 2004
Embargo: None; for immediate release
Enquiries: Ms Heidi Bartis, ph 021 483 3869; Ms Agnes van den Berg, ph 021 483 3716