After attending the public meeting regarding Kommetjie Rd, Advocate Paul Hoffman sent the following letter to Cape Town’s Mayor Patricia de Lille:
Dear Madame Mayor,
Last evening at 19h00 at the Fish Hoek Civic Centre, two of your officials and over one hundred members of the local community gathered to discuss the possible engineering and enforcement solutions to the problems posed to life, limb and property in Kommetjie Road by the exuberantly lawless driving habits of those who use this busy arterial route between Fishhoek and Kommetjie via Sun Valley.
The fact that so many residents were prepared to forego the warmth and comfort of their homes on a chilly winter’s evening, and the sombre facts, figures and stats presented to the meeting bear witness to the seriousness of the problem under discussion.
Fortunately the gentleman in blue, who heads your deep south traffic section, is an honest and frank public servant. He conceded under questioning by his audience that the most appropriate way of dealing with the various difficulties is “visible law enforcement”. His personnel are too few in number to be able to provide visible law enforcement, as a consequence of which it can reasonably be anticipated that the carnage, destruction, misery and high risk conduct will continue unabated in the absence of any appropriate intervention by the City.
In line with your caring community approach, which is perfectly consistent with the humane and compassionate society envisaged in the Constitution, please arrange to engage sufficient personnel and acquire any necessary equipment to enable your traffic department to provide the necessary “visible law enforcement” in Kommetjie Road.
Your attention is respectfully drawn to the fact that road safety is a human rights issue. Certainly, the people in the Civic Centre at Fish Hoek last night were not enjoying the psychological integrity to which they are entitled under s 12 of the Constitution. Everyone is entitled to be free from violence in an environment that is not harmful to health and well being. The rights to life, property and movement are also guaranteed to all in the Bill of Rights. The City, as an organ of state, is obliged to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights guaranteed to all in the Bill of Rights according to s 7(2) of the Constitution. Any failure to do so diligently and without delay (s 237) is actionable as an infringement of the rights of the users of Kommetjie Road and those who live along its length and in its vicinity. [see Rail Commuter Action Group and others v Transnet and others] Reasonable and accountable steps to deal with the situation are obligatory, not merely a matter of priority, because infringements of human rights on a large scale and ongoing basis are involved.
Please be advised further that should the City fail to accept the visible law enforcement solution which is the expert advice of its own senior traffic officer, who is well acquainted with the facts, legal proceedings will be instituted to compel the City to respect and protect the human rights of the users of Kommetjie Road, both as referred to above and as set out in the Bill of Rights. In such event, this letter will be placed before the court hearing the matter and appropriate relief in regard to costs will be sought. Hopefully it will not come to this.
If time is needed to make the necessary arrangements to provide visible law enforcement in Kommetjie Road, please advise how much time is needed and why it is needed. The urgency of the situation is self-evident as respect for life, limb and property is manifestly involved.
Paul Hoffman SC
Director, Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa
www.ifaisa.org +27 (0)82 888 0821