Justice Project South Africa is
delighted to note and announce that the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police
Department (JMPD) has finally taken the responsible decision and action to
programmatically cancel all of the unpaid illegal AARTO infringement notices it
issued in violation of the prescripts of Section 30(1) of the AARTO Act. Section
30(1) of the AARTO Act prescribes that “Any document required to be served on
an infringer in terms of this Act, must be served on the infringer personally
or sent by registered mail to his or her last known address”.
It was on this basis that JPSA lodged
a complaint with the Public Protector in June 2011, which resulted in the JMPD
being found to have engaged in maladministration in her report entitled “A
Matter of Interpretation” in December 2014, the remedial action recommended was
for the JMPD to print an “apology” in Johannesburg Newspapers and this was done
in March 2015.
At around the same time, the JMPD
stated in a media conference that members of the public who had received such
unlawful fines would have to “apply to have them cancelled”. JPSA immediately
wrote to both, the JMPD and RTIA pointing out the massive administrative burden
this so-called “solution” would place on the public, the RTIA and the JMPD. We
also pointed out the fact that the JMPD was continuing to collect revenues on
illegally issued infringement notices.
This, coupled with the Public
Protector’s report, has apparently had the desired effect, however we wish to
point out that the JMPD has gone further than merely complying with the
remedial action stipulated by the Public Protector.
In addition, the JMPD has also
cancelled all AARTO infringement notices it issued which were not entered into
the National Contraventions Register as is prescribed by the AARTO Act. This
affects all AARTO infringement notices starting with the prefix 02-4024 it issued since 1 April 2009
but does not affect lawful AARTO
infringement notices which were issued in compliance with the Act, through the
National Contraventions Register which runs on the eNaTIS registry, nor does it
affect “no admission of guilt” criminal offences.
Motorists who make use of the paycity.co.za website will notice that all
infringement notices starting with the prefix 02-4024 displayed on that website now show the status “Case is already
Finalised”, which means that motorists will no longer be required to submit
AARTO 08 representations for each and every one of them, including but not
limited to the infringement notices sent by ordinary mail. Motorists will also
no longer be intimidated over these unlawful fines in roadblocks established by
JPSA wishes to commend the JMPD for
finally coming clean, complying with the law and doing the right thing in this
matter. We also wish to commend them for going further than merely complying
with the report of the Public Protector.
The last time anything like this
happened was in 2009 when the JMPD programmatically cancelled all of the
illegal fines it issued under the Criminal Procedure Act from 1 November 2008
to 11 February 2009 when it should have been issuing them in terms of the AARTO
Act. The significant difference between then and now was that in 2009, it undertook
to refund motorists who had paid unlawfully issued fines, but this time around
is claiming that “a motorist who has paid fine has admitted guilt and therefore
is not entitled to a refund”.
JPSA disagrees with this assertion,
given the fact that the JMPD is notorious for setting up roadblocks where Metro
Police officers intimidate people into paying fines under threat of arrest
and/or detention, even though the AARTO Act does not cater for Warrants of
Arrest for infringement notices. We hold that coercion does not constitute
“admission of guilt”.
when traffic law enforcement in South Africa is practiced in an ethical and
corruption-free manner which complies fully with the law, will people begin to
respect and comply with the law. While traffic authorities continue to believe
that they may blatantly violate the law and use traffic fines to drive
outrageous monetary “budgets” for the
local, provincial and national authorities they fall under, the outrageously
high levels of road carnage which plays itself out on a daily basis in South
Africa will continue.
JPSA will continue to be at the forefront of
driving the much-needed changes in traffic law enforcement which focus on
restoring law and order and saving lives on our roads, as opposed to revenue
generation as is currently the case and will not hesitate to bring other
traffic authorities to book if and when they deviate from the law.