JOHANNESBURG – An article which appeared in the Star
Newspaper on Monday 20 October 2014, again making claims that the JMPD is
spending more on postages for AARTO infringement notices it issues than it
collects again highlights the skewed thinking that the JMPD and the City of Johannesburg applies to traffic
The article quotes Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar as
- “The City of Johannesburg
budgeted for R464.3m a year in income from fines in its 2014/15 budget, or
about R38.7m a month”.
- “Only 4 percent of fines
were collected on Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO)
infringement notices issued by the JMPD”.
- “This represents R5.2m
collected [by the JMPD] in an average month”.
- “The cost [to the JMPD] of
posting infringements by registered mail amounts to about R9.5m a month”
and the JMPD calls this “wasteful expenditure”.
- “Approximately 400 000
infringements are produced each month [by the JMPD]”.
- “The JMPD has been holding
“smart” roadblocks and roadside checkpoints where copies of AARTO
infringements are served personally on the infringer”.
Notwithstanding that the claim that the JMPD issues
approximately 400 000 infringement notices a month is down by 50 000 on
claimed figure, none of the other figures quoted make sense. According to the annual reports of the Road
Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), the vast majority of infringement notices
issued by the JMPD (well over 90%) are speed camera infringement notices and the
JMPD does little physical enforcement of other moving violations or ensuring
that traffic flows as it should. They do however mount prolific roadblocks in
order to collect what they see as due to them and have no hesitation in severely
hampering traffic flow and acting unlawfully in the process.
The penalties payable to issuing authorities under the AARTO
Act ranges from R125 to R750 on each infringement notice. This excludes
penalties payable at courts, should the nature of the offence be deemed by the
Act to be a criminal offence. If indeed, 400 000 infringement notices are
issued by it per month, the absolute minimum
value of these fines would be R50 million a month, not R38.7 million a month as
claimed. A R11.3 million (29%) discrepancy on its budget simply cannot be
described as being chump change.
Furthermore, the JMPD claims that it is collecting R5.2
million a month and this represents 4% of the penalties payable. If this is
true, it means that the JMPD must be issuing R92 million worth of infringement
notices a month or R1.1 billion a year. In return, the City of Johannesburg
budgets nothing whatsoever for road
safety initiatives, but instead chooses to treat traffic fines as a general tax
to fund its annual budget.
The JMPD claims that it sets up “smart roadblocks and
roadside checks where copies of AARTO infringements are served personally on
the infringer”. Whilst it is not in dispute that the JMPD sets up prolific
roadblocks and roadside checks, it is in dispute that these are legal and what
the purposes of these exercises are. It is also not a provision of the AARTO
Act for personal service of AARTO 03 infringement notices to be served on the alleged
infringer at the roadside.
JPSA currently has several live complaints lodged with the
JMPD with respect to roadblocks mounted by them and it has already been
established that the JMPD acts unlawfully in terms of the requirements imposed
on it by the South African Police Service Act. Under this Act, the JMPD is
required to apply for and be granted permission to mount both roadblocks and
roadside checks, regardless of what the purpose for these are.
On Sunday 13 July 2014, the JMPD mounted simultaneous
roadblocks on the N1 North and South at Malibongwe Drive and Beyers Naude Drive
respectively where only the roadblock mounted on the N1 North was authorised in
terms of Section 13(8) of the SAPS Act. These roadblocks lasted almost 7 hours
and severely disrupted traffic, causing the people stuck in them to incur
significant financial losses.
On Friday 10 October 2014, a journalist from the SABC was stopped
in roadblock mounted by the JMPD on the N1 South opposite Vlakfontein and
called JPSA for advice as he was being threatened with arrest for outstanding
AARTO infringement notices. When a JMPD officer spoke to Howard Dembovsky, the
officer stated “we are working here not
to remind people to pay their fines, but to make them pay their fines… If you
say he cannot pay fines meet him at the Police Station then. You can leave
where you are now and meet him at err… Diep… err… Orlando Police Station and
you can help yourself with this.”
This conversation was recorded and has been published to SoundCloud. It
constitutes an attempt at extortion as well as a threat of unlawful arrest. The
JMPD has repeatedly denied that their officers threaten people with arrest for
outstanding AARTO infringement notices but clearly, their denials are, like
most of what comes out of the JMPD, fabrications intended to make their
officers out to be angels and make members of the public out to be liars.
Although the AARTO Act does make provision for arrest and/or
the issue of summonses for serious criminal offences under the National Road
Traffic Act, it makes no provision for the issue of summonses and/or warrants
of arrest for outstanding infringement
notices as it utilises other, administrative mechanisms to deal with these
matters. When applied properly, the provisions
of the AARTO Act work quite well, but obviously – constant and prolonged
strikes by the South African Post Office, coupled with maladministration and
deviation from the prescripts of the Act by issuing authorities and the RTIA do
not help matters.
JPSA is still awaiting the final report of the Public
Protector with respect to its complaint lodged with that office on 15 June
2011, with respect to the JMPD’s maladministration under the AARTO Act. Despite
having received the preliminary report of the Public Protector on this matter
in December 2013, the report has not yet been finalised and we patiently await
that report. The JMPD has repeatedly
complained about “wasteful expenditure” being incurred by properly serving
AARTO infringement notices in compliance with the AARTO Act since it was essentially
forced to stop violating it on 21 December 2012, after repeated admissions by
the Minister of Transport that it was acting unlawfully.
Despite multiple complaints having been lodged by us with the JMPD
with respect to the manner in which they mount roadblocks which are primarily aimed
at collecting fines revenues, no satisfactory feedback has been received and as
a result, JPSA has resolved to proceed with legal action against the JMPD for
their abuses and failure to act within the framework of the law.