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Home | FEATURES & OPINION | Minister swallowed his saliva early on arrest the drunken tourist rant
 
 

Minister swallowed his saliva early on arrest the drunken tourist rant

image EXPOSED: Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs Christopher Gamedze.

TOURISM Minister, Christopher Gamedze speaking at Bushfire 2017, was quick to notice that he was caught between a hard surface and a rock, he had to mix water and oil in his statement that was interpreted to mean he felt police were keeping away with their arrest for those driving under the influence.

TOURISM Minister, Christopher Gamedze speaking at Bushfire 2017, was quick to notice that he was caught between a hard surface and a rock, he had to mix water and oil in his statement that was interpreted to mean he felt police were keeping away with their arrest for those driving under the influence. 

Gamedze, seeing he had opened a can of worms by tackling this issue in the first place, jumped to the microphone to set the record straight, that he did not mean police were not professional in arresting drunk tourists, only that he was highlighting how much intoxicated drivers had so much negative impact on tourism when arrested by the police. 

Reading in between the lines, the minister was attempting to avoid inviting to his doorstep unnecessary criticism on this thorny subject because of the very comic views coming from the public. Probably the area Gamedze would rather not burn his fingers on is that of whether police themselves when going about the business of keeping drunk drivers off the roads do actually employ conventional methods, whether they have the capacity to operate professionally without having to be seen to be killing Swazi tourism. 

drunken

If one were to visit the watering holes that claim their economic contribution to selling alcohol to tourists, the story is completely different, tourists have over the years developed attitudes that because they bring much needed foreign currency they might as well impose their presence by forcing countries to relax certain laws. 

This observation, however, only goes to the drunk tourists. On the other hand, the police have selected strategic places to camp outside watering holes to pounce on patrons who may risk driving themelves home. 

In some instances. they even park at the entrances of known citizens who are fond of the bottle, ask one prince in Mbabane who lost his cool with the police several years ago, just when the statistics started to attract public attention.

In South Africa, project RID (Remove the Intoxicated Driver), [this being the country where celebrities are quoted by the media as having vowed never to return to Swaziland after they were caught drunk], has produced miracles for its people. An important finding of research into alcohol and driving is that there is a single outcome for everyone: the decline in performance with increased intoxication may be slower in some than in others, but eventually all drivers start to commit major driving errors. The driving public's acceptance of this reality was slower back in 1991 when driving after drinking was commonplace. But with Project RID now more than two decades in the past, and a new generation which has grown up with decreasing acceptance of alcohol and driving, why then has alcohol use on our roads reached epidemic proportions?

lagged

Swazi Trails Managing Director, Darron Raw says: “General attitudes about drink-driving in Swaziland have certainly lagged international best practise for many years, but the trend has changed in the last three to four years. Now it is not uncommon to hear people talk about being a ‘designated driver’ or hiring a professional driver to get them home from parties. Whilst it’s still likely to be some time before the moral justifications for condemning DD are properly entrenched, the bottom line is that folk are cognisant of the reputational damage they are likely to suffer if they appear in a newspaper article.

We all know that come weekend or when there are festivals or major activities in the country it is harvest time for the traffic cop who will stop at nothing to make a quick buck by pulling drivers over, failing which they risk the inconvenience of going behind bars and appearing before a magistrate with a very strong hangover, babalaas and part with fortunes, again leaving behind a criminal record with the much hated fingerprinting requirement. The argument goes beyond the bottle into how the police service is actually performing in its holistic approaches such as its records in containing other crimes. Says the American Embassy: “Police response time to incidents is slow, if at all, unless the police are in the general area where the incident occurred. Police consider a 30-minute response time adequate, even in urban areas. Police are generally willing to assist but often lack transportation and resources to properly respond to, or investigate, crimes.”

Now this week’s headlines have screamed that there was an observed 6.1 per cent increase in serious crime in the country in 2016 when compared to 2015 according to 2016 Royal Swaziland Police Service annual report.

Check what is on the rise: murder, culpable homicide, armed robbery, car theft, house breaking and theft, robbery, illegal possessions of firearms, drugs and terrorism. I do not know about the latter maybe the communications department will educate us further because I have not heard a single case of terrorism in Swaziland unless they mean the amount of terror in the townships unleashed by bush knife wielding thugs when committing robberies, that has nothing to do with the terrorism authored by some expertise with connections in the Middle East. I mean the amount of terrorism as experienced recently in Manchester, France and Iran, maybe Swaziland is still to hit the world headlines when the police in Swaziland give us their first case. 

 summarised

Police victories, by their own admission, can only be summarised as: in 2016 seized dagga weighing 16 053kg with a street value of E9.6 million; a 20.7 per cent increase when compared to 2015. A total of 1 483 hectares of dagga fields were destroyed around the country, which indicated a 18 per cent decrease from 2015.  More fields could have been destroyed but the inaccessible terrain was one impediment, which still underscores the need for a helicopter facility. Cases of drug trafficking increased by 0.5 per cent when compared to 2015. A total 2 226 suspects were arrested for drug trafficking and dealing. The suspects include locals and those from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

Now that calls for a decoration but maybe, having added to the statistics on terrorism, the police will disclose to the public the figures relating to driving under the influence and the arrest of drunken pedestrians who became a nuisance on the roadside during football matches, weddings or month ends, unless these are not crimes.

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