Another Tradgic Killing on Kommetjie Road- One readers account

Following the death of Gaby Bouwer it seems that little was done to actually decrease the risk of death and injury on Kommetjie Road, now statistics have caught up with us again and someone else has had to pay the ultimate price for a) the general negligence of drivers and b) the ineptitude of authorities to do something about it. I was going to write my own piece about this killing (I won’t use the word accident anymore as this word implies that it was no-ones fault, which is clearly not the case) however a comment was left today on one of my previous posts, “Kommetjie road quarry road and 17th avenue still an accident black-spot”. The comment was left by Uga Carlini, a resident of Kommetjie Road who was there during events. Read it and remember it next time you are behind the wheel of a vehicle:

“I have been living on Kommetjie road, Fish Hoek for four years now and in my four years here I have seen, heard and experienced the most horrible car crashes, accidents and quite frankly murders on a residential road.

It feels like yesterday when a 17 year old girl’s life, walking her dog, was wiped by a speeding taxi. Just a few months ago, a dead pedestrian’s body was left for three hours before she was removed. Not to mention the cyclists being killed and hit by cars, many other hit and runs, and others being knocked over, here to tell the story but forever having to deal with the after effects of their injuries. Local residents in the area have all had a close call or have been witness to some horrific road event. Fish Hoek high school is a block down with hundreds of scholars crossing the Kommetjie Rd daily.  My neighbour woke up at 4 in the morning to find a taxi driver, who fell asleep behind the wheel travelling at 160km a hour, took out three of his palm trees before he came to a halt through his wall. And turning into one’s driveway out of Kommetjie road, well that’s a nightmare for another day and a continuous near death experience! The amount of times, we had near hit and misses has been crazy to the point of us becoming so desensitised to it, that we just hope for every day to be an ok one accident wise. Cape Medical Response unit (whose premises are across the road from me) has as much a hard time with Kommetjie road incidents (usually speed related) than they do just trying to be able to pull out of their premises into Kommetjie road for the all important tasks they have!

And then there was yesterday, the 5th of June. We heard the most horrendous thud. No breaks, no screeching tyres. Just a thud and those few seconds of dead silence. We ran out and there they were, an old Fish Hoek favourite, dedicated father, husband and animal lover, in the middle of Kommetjie rd, dying. Tiger, his dog, struggling further down. One of his shoes was in front of our house, his body, just past 16th avenue. His arm split open, bones sticking out and yes read this because this is the reality of what is going on, on Kommetjie road. It is not pretty. It is not sugar coated. It is murder in its purest most gruesome way.  And the car? The car that wiped these lives out so easily, so carelessly, only came to a halt past 14th avenue. The driver didn’t even break. He couldn’t, HE WAS GOING TO FAST! They just sat there. Not once did they bother to get out of their overloaded car to come and have a look at what they have done. NOT ONCE. We overheard the driver say ‘I was only going a 100km’. It is a 60 zone and he overtook on a solid white line. Straight into the man waiting to cross the road. Witnesses travelling on the road, was all over taken by this speeding sedan. In all instances on the solid line. And they all tell of how the man and his dog were flung into the air, like Ping-Pong balls. No chance. The driver drove over them. Through them, like they were not there, like it didn’t matter. Fish Hoek, does it? Matter? Enough for everyone to take a stand and speak out? Authorities? It looked like a bus hid the side of his car and the windscreen. No one could survive that…
We watched him die on the scene. We were helpless. Furious. So, so angry. Sad beyond words and quite frankly traumatised. Tiger, after incredible efforts from local vet Sue, at Fish Hoek Animal Clinic, died in his sleep last night.

We have begged. They have died. What the hell more is needed here? The corner of 16th avenue is a blind corner. A nursery with CHILDREN is on that corner. Cars have ploughed through walls there. Just three weeks ago, the street lamp was taken out.
Speed cameras, throughout Kommetjie rd! More traffic lights. Traffic officers. Speed bumps. Traffic circles. The military if you have to. IT IS THAT SERIOUS!
The silly little left hand turn lane executed at 17th avenue after the 17 year old was murdered, has done NOTHING. Nothing but create a left hand lane overtaking zone for lawless taxi drivers. Gosh, how do you people even get up in the mornings knowing what has happened there, and that’s how you try and solve it? Spoken to her parents at all? Dared too? Because yes, the municipality/traffic department is to blame here for not doing something about this horrible, terrible death trap!
You would prefer for me to be nice, civil, sweet in my approach? Decent, not so angry, not seemingly aggressive? Well I tell you what, you spend a Sunday morning watching someone die, who really never deserved it, whose life was ended so savagely without being able to do anything because those who can do something about this situation, the ones in power HAS NOT. How does one ‘rest in peace’? How do you?

DA we voted for you. What are you going to do? And how do you make right what has happened here after we have begged and asked for so long. The proof is in the statistics. And to the family of the victim, I am so, so sorry, may their deaths not be in vain.

Uga Carlini KOMMETJIE ROAD, Fish Hoek, needless to say…

Please add your voice, either email info@towerkopcreations.co.za or drop your letter off at Fish Hoek vet, 77 Kommetjie RD or in the post box on the silver gate 93 Kommetjie rd.”

I am also going to send a link to this article to our ward counsellors as it is high time that the discussions and meetings about this lethal stretch of road came to an end and something positive was done. As Frederich Nietzsche so famously said, “Fear is the mother of morality,” and it seems to be especially poignant in this case. Unless drastic and draconian measures are put in place I am certain that drivers will not improve their habits and that this will lead to more deaths on Kommetjie Road.

8 thoughts on “Another Tradgic Killing on Kommetjie Road- One readers account

  1. Response from Alderman JP Smith (Mayoral Commitee Member for Safety and Security):

    I do not think the criticism contained in the first paragraph of the article is fair – the City has not ben in any “inept” in responding to this issue – the author fails to understand or acknowledge some basic issues.

    The City has undertaken a great deal of traffic enforcement on Kommetjie Road in response to previous complaints, with the following numbers of cases per month:

    JANUARY 2011 312
    FEBRUARY 2011 229
    MARCH 2011 124
    APRIL 2011 226
    MAY 2011 110

    This means that in 5 months the City wrote up a total of 1001 traffic offences (a more detailed breakdown of all these cases and the different categories is available, but would take up too much space to detail here).

    In addition to the above enforcement, 706 speed cases were also prosecuted. Between the 4th of January and the 19th of May, a look at the speed enforcement done on Kommetjie Rd, which has a speed limit of 60 Kmph, shows the following statistics:
    – the highest speed recorded was 112 Kmph
    – the average speed of people exceeding the speed limit was 81 Kmph
    – speed enforcement was done on 12 occasions for a total of 34 hours
    – the speed enforcement was done across the day and night and the times vary from 6 am to 11 pm
    – manual, laser and radar speed enforcement was done

    Tixed traffic speed cameras along this road will be considered by the Camera Review Team in the City, but this must be done in terms of the accident statistics across the City to ensure that we direct our resources at the most dangerous locations, in terms of which Kommetjie Road does not feature among the most dangerous roads.

    That said, enforcement is only a part of the solution and physical changes to the road also need to be considered to achieve traffic speed calming and greater road safety. This is limted and controlled by various traffic engineering policies and legislation.

    There is also a traffic calming policy for the City which requires anybody wishing to bring such a complaint to the attention of the City to fill in a simple half page form which then compels a response from the relevant officials and which is then placed on the agenda of the local subcouncil so that the matter will receive attention. Ms. Carlini should also follow this process.

    However, the City immediately responded to her intitial complaint before the matter was taken up in the media and she has received the following response from the Head of traffic engineering and the local senior Traffic officers (please also note her response below that):

    ——————————————————————————–

    Dear Ms Carlini

    We have received your e-mail and sincerely regret the passing of Mr Reinaud on June 5th.

    An arterial management plan for Kommetjie Road was drafted to guide engineering interventions to improve safety on the road. The re-marking of the road to a single lane in either direction flowed from this plan as did the installation of traffic signals at the 17th Avenue / Quarry Road intersection. Other provisions of the plan are being developed further, notably the realignment of High Way to intersect with Kommetjie Road closer to 13th Avenue and the signalization of the resulting 4-way intersection. The closure of certain roads leading into Kommetjie Road is also recommended in the plan as a way to limit the conflict between vehicles at intersections. This would naturally require comprehensive community consultation before any action is taken.

    The above engineering interventions are not primarily aimed at reducing vehicle speeds on Kommetjie Road and will have limited effect on these speeds. Traffic signals, for example are intended to provide motorists with controlled access from a side road onto a main road by bringing the main road traffic to a halt. While the signal is green for main road traffic, however, it has no effect on speeds. While it is red for main road traffic it is very effective in providing safe access to the main road.

    The City has adopted a traffic calming policy which does advocate the use of speed humps and raised pedestrian crossings on minor roads under certain circumstances. Use of such measures on arterial roads such as Kommetjie Road is not advocated and is, in fact, prohibited. The appropriate method of speed control on arterial roads remains effective traffic law enforcement.

    We remain committed to the creation of a road environment that can be used safely by the reasonable driver and will use the resources at our disposal to promote road safety along Kommetjie Road.

    Sincerely

    Sean Glass
    Head : Transport Network Development
    Transport Department
    Transport, Roads & Major Projects Directorate
    City of Cape Town

    ——————————————————————————–

    Dear Ms Carlini

    I hereby acknowledge receipt of your mail dated 06 June 2011

    I have included Mr Sean Glass who is the head of Transport and Development and also Senior Inspector Paul Frederick Smith under whom speeding resorts for their attention and direct response to you.

    Please find attached the feedback from this office regarding general Law Enforcement that was done by this department since January 2011 on Kommetjie Road itself. A total of 17 arrests for driving under the influence were taken in the month of January 2011 and another 28 for the month of April 2011 which are excluded from the attachment totals.

    Mr Glass, can you please address the request for additional Traffic Signals or speed bumps on this road or any other suggestions to either reduce the speed or make the road safer. A suggestion was to also look at a pedestrian crossing for the school children, maybe a raised one with a traffic signal.

    Mr Smith, can you please respond to the speeding issue and the request for speed cameras at this location.

    Kind regards

    MARK WAYNE HARDING
    PRINCIPAL INSPECTOR
    TRAFFIC OPERATIONS

    ——————————————————————————–

    From: Uga Carlini
    Sent: 06 June 2011 03:02 PM
    To: Mark Harding; Donovan Philander
    Subject: Mark & Donovan

    Dearest Donovan. Dearest Mark.

    You are what my love and hope for this country is all about.

    Thank you for your time and efforts and I look forward to seeing how some sort of resolution can be found.

    With thanks and admiration

    Uga

    1. Russell Hepworth says:

      “If inept is too strong a word due to my ignorance, then let us replace it with slow. Surely it is a simple process, the relevant people get together put forward their proposal and a decision is made as to whether they can be implemented or not. It is true that law enforcement has been increased in the area and it makes no difference at all as it is only working when the officers are actually there, and then it is only limited to where they are. However, as it has been pointed out I know nothing of the circumstances so will keep such comments to myself. (Could I also put forward a plan for the traffic officers, when a road block is set up that they also monitor the roads around Kommetjie Road and catch all those trying to avoid them for whatever reason- word seems to get out very quickly, you can always tell there is a block due to the increased traffic on Nelson Road.)
      Can I take this opportunity to put this idea forward?
      Are you looking at this from the right perspective?
      I cannot think of any deaths that have occurred of drivers due to speeding. There are a lot of prangs and clangs, but they can all be fixed. The major concern is that pedestrians are getting killed, and yet the only pedestrian crossings on the road are at 17th Avenue/Quarry Road (if you want to count the zebra crossing at the technical college then I challenge you to try and use it), there aren’t even any safe islands in the middle of the road east of this junction. If there is no possibility of putting in fixed speed cameras or other calming measures then can we at least do something about the safety of pedestrians? Would this make the process simpler and easier to pass through the system?”

      1. Russell Hepworth says:

        In the defense of the city I will say this though- it is easy to point the finger at the City, and its hard working individuals, but they aren’t killing people on Kommetjie Road (well they might, but not in an official capacity). If everyone showed some modicum of common sense and thougthfullness they would drive their cars properly- problem solved for free, not road alterations, speed cameras, traffic calming or traffic cops necessary! Then resources could be put towards things more deserving. All that needs to happen is for YOU to make a stand and obey the law. Stop speeding, stop doing stupid things like overtaking on the inside, have some patience, drive defensively/passively, turn your cell phone off when in the car (really, what is so important that it can’t wait a few minutes, its actually a little bit pathetic when you think about it.)

  2. Uga says:

    Dear JP Smith.
    Yes, they did respond very quickly and in fact Mark Harding met with me personally on Monday to discuss my concerns in person. Mr Philander also attended and that I greatly appreciated. An absolute example of dedication, and men who do what they can to serve the community. You should clone them as they are far and in between. Men and women like these is what we need.
    I also heard your discussion with John Maytham on Cape Talk on Tuesday. What stuck with me though, according to your conversation and my interpretation of it, was the fact that ‘Kommetjie Rd wasn’t on the worse road list’, that ‘statistics didn’t suggest it was that bad’ and that it was about ‘balancing priorities’. Soon, I will give you concrete evidence to help balance these priorities and shed some more light on your statistics for according to my statistics, just from the few residents on Kommetjie road I had time to speak to, it tells a very different story. It paints bloody, heart breaking pictures and maybe spending some time or even just a telephone conversation with those who lost loved ones, had near death experiences or made it alive, with injuries for life, could ease those who can do something about it, like yourself, into being change makers?
    Re your Cape Chronicle response re: ‘This means that in 5 months the City wrote up a total of 1001 traffic offences (a more detailed breakdown of all these cases and the different categories is available, but would take up too much space to detail here) –
    (Please Mr Smith, do take up all the space you need so we could see exactly too)
    In addition to the above enforcement, 706 speed cases were also prosecuted.’ –
    – wow, am I missing something here? 706 speed cases? 1001 traffic offences and bear in mind traffic law enforcement are not often enough in our area, we barely see traffic cops and that means that when they are around, these are the kind of offences that accumulate. These are the statistics! Stating clearly there is a massive and deadly problem.
    But alas, that to the side, as deaths and injuries on Kommetjie road so easily gets done away with anyway by those in power, I will also soon respond to the feedback of the traffic department pending further investigations from my team so that we can come to some sort of an understanding and put heads together to find solutions for all. Solutions with time lines of course.
    But let’s not forget some of the realities of a few of the situations: a mom that lost her daughter to a speeding taxi two years ago. A court case that’s standing still, pending further investigation due to incomplete dockets and as the law states, innocent until proven guilty. Still not guilty, still driving. The driver of Mr Renaud’s brutal killing, is also out and about as the driver’s wife could proof his residential address, he wasn’t drunk while driving and the fact that he was driving at an estimated 120km per hour and overtook 3 cars on a solid line, well I suppose ‘it’s not so bad’? Just over a month ago a woman’s body was left on the road for 3 hours after she was killed by a speeding vehicle. The list is long, the list is extensive, but again, I shall send it on to you and every single other person willing to listen as soon as I have concluded statistics, witness accounts and proof on my side. At the end of the day, whether it states that Kommetjie road is an Arterial road or not, it’s a RESIDENTIAL ROAD mostly with crèches, a college, schools down the road, an old age home, CMR and law abiding citizens in RESIDENTIAL HOUSES, who are all risking their lives just pulling out of their driveways.
    To me, it is also about balancing priorities and from where we are standing as a community; it is that bad with matching statistics, heart ache and callousness that would blow you out of the water rather than out of proportion.

  3. Susan de Witt says:

    To Whom It May Concern

    REGARDING THE ONGOING TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS ON KOMMETJIE ROAD

    I would like to please request that some traffic calming measures be implemented on the Kommetjie Road in Fish Hoek between Main Road and Ou Kaapse Weg.

    The lOO metre stretch of road in front of my business has seen 3 pedestrian deaths in the last year.

    Two of those deaths involved our veterinary practice staff having to call loved ones to inform them of the accident. We were able to identify the victims through the identity tags of their respective pets who happened to be involved in the accidents as well. The latest victim, Mr Renaud’s bull terrier passed away 12 hours after his master due to massive internal injuries.

    Apart from these traumatising incidents, my staff and clients are constantly harassed and intimidated by speeding drivers, as we attempt to navigate into our parking lot. It’s one of the busiest pedestrian roads in the area with school children and workers crossing the road on a daily basis.

    The road is still predominantly residential even though the public considers it to be a main thoroughfare. As such we have to consider the traffic calming measures to be in line with whatever is happening on quieter residential roads.

    I realise that red tape and costs are the main issues preventing immediate action but I believe an exception needs to be made in the case of this road. In most developed countries one death would be enough to implement certain measures or at least increase police presence. We have had three in 12 months. There will be more.

    I propose that you place roundabouts at close intervals along the road. They enable the flow of traffic whilst slowing it down considerably.

    If nothing is done and another person is killed, those in charge of the red tape and purse strings will be considered to be directly responsible.

    Yours truly
    Susan de Witt (Business owner and Vet on the Kommetjie Road)

  4. Gavin Fish says:

    Gavin Fish Principal Fish Hoek High School

    Whether the person lying dieing in Kommetjie road is wearing my school blazer or not, is simply not the point. That innocent pedestrians continue to die on Kommetjie Road should outrage and shock us into appropriate action.

    As Principal of Fish Hoek High School, with scores of my pupils, daily crossing Kommetjie Road, I wonder when the call will be mine. The protection, safety and security of our youth is a societal obligation. In this respect, we are failing. I have to question the adequacy of both the roads department and SAPS response to the problem. Visible policing in previous years was an appropriate and effective measure. It was the rule and now appears to be the exception. Traffic slowing measures in the form of traffic circles and speed bumps have proven effective in other communities, why not in ours?

    How many more deaths before institutional lethargy is shocked into action? We desperately need to become a proactive nation dealing timeously with problems and not lurching from crisis to crisis.

    Kind Regards

    Gavin Fish Principal
    Fish Hoek High School

  5. Darren Zimmerman says:

    CAPE MEDICAL RESPONSE
    CMR HOUSE, 106 KOMMETJIE ROAD.
    FISH HOEK, CAPE TOWN, 7975
    P.O. BOX 37758 VALYLAND. 7978
    TELEPHONE: (021) 782-0606
    FAX: (021) 782-0707
    E-MAIL: capemedr@iafrica.com

    Cape Medical Response has been following the concerns raised by local residents and the media regarding accidents and speeding along Kommetjie Road.

    As the most “active” emergency medical service providers in the Far South area, and based on Kommetjie Road in Fish Hoek, CMR attends to vast majority of the more serious vehicle accidents in the Fish Hoek and surrounding areas.

    We support all efforts to reduce vehicle speeds on Kommetjie Road, which we believe have contributed greatly to the numbers of serious accidents on Kommetjie Road, and in the loss of a number of lives.

    While some of the accidents have obviously been purely “accidental” and not necessarily because of speed, we believe that there have been a great number of accidents involving motor cars, motor bikes and pedestrians that could have been avoided or possibly have had a better outcome had the vehicle/s involved been travelling within the speed limit.

    In particular, Kommetjie Road has a stretch from the Fish Hoek circle to 17th Avenue (a distance of 1 ,7 kms) without a stop, and another nonstop stretch from 17th Avenue all the way to the “4-Way” traffic lights (a distance of 2,2 kms). These sections we believe have proved particularly “dangerous” as they give vehicles a lot of time and distance to build up speed.

    While we believe that many vehicles using this road speed, the taxi services operating from Ocean View and Masipumelele, in particular at “rush hours”, race as they make every effort to accommodate more trips. Early mornings (from 5: 30am) and evenings are particularly dangerous.

    Whether the solution/s to this problem lies in strategically placing additional traffic lights, stop streets or circles to reduce the long distance between stops; or using cameras or other methods to reduce speeds; we believe that it is imperative that some measures are decided upon and implemented as soon as possible to avoid

    CMR needing to attend to such unfortunate events such as Mr. Raymond Renaud’s death on Sunday the 5th June 2011.

    We sincerely hope that a solution to this problem will be found.

    If there is any further information that Cape Medical Response can assist with in this regard, please contact our Operations Manager, Mr Darren Zimmerman.

    Dr Alan Walters Member

    Ronel Smolders Member

    Giles Conradie Member

    CAPE MEDICAL RESPONSE CC Registration No: CK 2001/013020/23

  6. Brenda Matthews says:

    Carlisle Lodge has recently changed its entrance from Kommetjie Road to Nelson Road because of the danger to our residents and their families.

    It has become very frightening to stop and pick up residents and crossing Kommetjie Road. It is definitely not advisable for an elderly person.

    A few years ago a Carlisle Lodge Resident was hit by a car, had a fractured leg and died a week later.

    Two of our residents have had car accidents while trying to leave the property on the Kommetjie Road side.

    We feel very strongly that it is time some sort of traffic control was enforced for the safety of all concerned. The speed at which taxis and some cars travel with no regard for island, solid lines or oncoming traffic needs to be controlled urgently.

    On behalf of all at Carlisle Lodge we urgently request that the authorities do something to help us feel safe when leaving the Home on Kommetjie Road.

    Brenda Matthews

    Manager [Carlisle Lodge, Kommetjie Road, Fish Hoek]

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