Western Cape Minister of Transport, Robin Carlisle, Deputy Transport Minister, Jeremy Cronin and the South African Breweries Limited (SAB) today launched the state of the art Safely Home Anti Drunk-driving Operations War Room (SHADOW) in Athlone. The SHADOW centre is equipped to accurately measure a drivers breath alcohol concentration level through a single breath sample.
The SHADOW centre is an integral part of the Western Capes Safely Home road safety campaign, the primary objective of which is to halve the number of road fatalities in the province within five years. This is the first such centre to be opened in the Western Cape, funded as part of a countrywide initiative by SAB to tackle drunk driving.
In a related move, the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) in the Western Cape has granted permission for Cape Town magistrate courts to use the Drger Alcotest breath analysers for prosecutions purposes from 17 December 2009 onwards.
The centre, using these Drger breath analysers, will shorten the waiting period to achieve prosecutions, eliminate the existing messy chain of evidence problems and should dramatically improve the prosecution rates for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Minister Carlisle believes that the opening of the SHADOW centre is a significant step forward in the provinces fight against drunk driving.
Today marks an important milestone in the Western Capes struggle to combat drunk driving. The loss of innocent lives on our roads because of the thoughtless actions of those who drink and drive cannot go unpunished. Having access to state of the art facilities to ensure effective prosecution of offenders will undoubtedly save lives.
His comments were echoed by SAB Director of Transformation, Dr. Vincent Maphai.
We believe that the most effective way to change ingrained patterns of behaviour around drunk driving is to ensure effective law enforcement and prosecution. We are thus making the tools available to the police to help achieve this. Together, we believe we can achieve our shared goal of making drinking and driving an unthinkable choice for South Africans.
Minister Carlisle expressed his gratitude to South African Breweries for donating in excess of R1 million for the centres infrastructure. The launch of the SHADOW centre forms part of a wider SAB strategy to tackle the issue of alcohol abuse in South Africa. Among the key areas being targeted by the strategy are; reducing the prevalence of foetal alcohol syndrome, encouraging responsible trading and the reducing of drunk driving.
Note to editors
The Drger alcohol test breathalyser machines are able to take an instant and accurate reading of the amount of alcohol in an individuals bloodstream. The reading can then be used as evidence to secure a conviction of drunken driving. In practice regular road blocks will be set up throughout the metropole and those whose breathalyser tests reveal more than 0.24 milligrams of alcohol per litre of oxygen on their breath or those drivers suspected to be under the influence of alcohol, will be brought to the centre for further testing and upon a positive result will be charged with a criminal offence.
Tel: 021 483 8954
Cell: 083 641 9691
Issued by: Department of Transport and Public Works, Western Cape Provincial Government
16 December 2009