Another day, another funeral. SA’s shameful (and preventable) national tragedy.

Ahead of the weekend, I was moved by an email from a Biznews community member whose daughter died last November after being involved in a head-on car accident. She was 21. Also on Friday, the country’s 38 year old deputy minister of mining, Bavelile Hlongwa, was killed in a car accident on the N1 from Polokwane. Four others died with her on the scene.

While I never met our community member’s daughter, I was exposed to the now late politician at the Junior Mining Indaba in June. She had been inducted into cabinet just a week earlier, and accepted an impromptu invitation to introduce herself from the podium. Ms Hlongwa, a chemical engineer, impressed me as a young leader with a bright future in public service.

Their deaths are a reminder of an avoidable national tragedy. In 2017, the latest stats available, South Africans buried more than 14,000 people through road deaths. In the same year, the UK, which has three times as many registered vehicles, suffered 1,800 fatalities. In other words, the odds of dying on a South African road is 23 times higher than in the UK.

Reason? In SA, enforcement is woeful, burdening the nation with a preventable disaster. Consider relative consequences of drunken driving. Or how, in the UK, 53,000 testers are employed to check all 38m UK vehicles annually for their MOT. Nothing similar in SA where the Department of Transport estimates 1m of SA’s 12.5m registered vehicles are unroadworthy. Long overdue for SA to wake up and really smell this particular coffee.