JMPD & City of Johannesburg is at it again!

JOHANNESBURG – An article entitled “Expect roadblocks galore” which appeared in the Times newspaper today is of major concern to JPSA for a number of reasons, not least of which is the serious disruptions caused to already poor traffic flow in Johannesburg and the fact that roadblocks do not tackle the vast majority of moving violations which cause injuries and loss of life on our roads.

From the contents of the article, it is not clear whether the purpose of these roadblocks is going to be to look for unfit vehicles and drivers by inspecting vehicles and screening drivers or to serve camera speeding fines on motorists instead of using registered mail as is prescribed by the AARTO Act.

If the latter is true, as it would appear that it is from Stephen Grootes’ interview on the 702 Midday Report with Edna Mamonyane, this is unlawful because regulation 3(1)(b) of the AARTO Act states that “An infringement notice contemplated in section 17(1) of the Act shall be issued and served or caused to be served to the infringer by registered mail, on a form similar to form AARTO 03 as shown in Schedule 1, within 40 days of the commission of the infringement.” Personal service of infringement notices in relation to camera speeding fines is not catered for anywhere in the AARTO Act and Regulations.

Although personal service of AARTO infringement notices is contemplated in the AARTO Act and Regulations, this is only applicable where the infringer is stopped at the time of the alleged infringement and issued with an AARTO 01 or AARTO 02 infringement notice.

Once an infringement notice is served in person, if the alleged infringer does not exercise one of the four options available to them within 32 days therefrom, the Road Traffic Infringement Agency would have to issue and serve a courtesy letter by registered mail. One of those four options is to pay the 50% discounted prescribed penalty on that infringement notice, but it is not the only option.

If the alleged infringer still does not exercise one of the prescribed options after being served with a courtesy letter, then the Registrar of the RTIA must issue and serve an enforcement order on that alleged infringer by registered mail. An enforcement order has the effect of blocking the issue of a licence disc, driving licence and Professional Driving Permit (PrDP).

The problem is however that since the inception of the so-called “pilot” of the AARTO Act in the jurisdictions of the Cities of Johannesburg and Tshwane, neither the JMPD, the TMPD, nor the RTIA have in fact used registered mail to serve infringement notices and other documents they post. This was raised with the RTIA on 29 October 2015 at an event hosted by the RTIA in the East Rand and notice has been served on all three entities that JPSA intends bringing the matter before the High Court shortly.

Registered mail, which is the prescribed method of posting infringement notices and other documents required to be served in terms of the AARTO Act is not only a specifically defined service offered by the South African Post Office, but is significantly different in its functionality to the “secure mail” or “hybrid mail” services the SAPO offers and which the JMPD, TMPD and RTIA have utilised since the inception of the AARTO Act.

The City of Johannesburg and the JMPD appears to be adopting a similar strategy to the one it adopted when, between 1 June 2010 and 22 December 2012, when it posted AARTO infringement notices using ordinary mail and then set up roadblocks all over Johannesburg whereat it threatened motorists with arrest if they did not pay infringement notices they had not received in the mail. JPSA brought a successful complaint against the JMPD with the Public Protector, who released her report in December 2014.

Perhaps the City of Johannesburg’s latest strategy is associated with the fact that when the Public Protector found that the JMPD has engaged in unlawful actions and maladministration, the only sanction that was brought against the JMPD was them being ordered to publish a “public apology” in the newspaper, but they were allowed to retain the monies they had raked in illegally.

In April 2015, the JMPD finally caved into the demands of JPSA and cancelled all of the outstanding blatantly unlawful AARTO 03 infringement notices it had issued from the inception of AARTO in its jurisdiction up to December 2012. This action caused a reported R1.5 billion worth of outstanding AARTO infringement notices to be programmatically cancelled. JPSA is not however in a position to state just how much money the JMPD and the City of Johannesburg managed to rake in as a result of their unlawful actions, but it would be safe to say that this equated to several multiples of the stated amount.

Warrants of arrest are not contemplated anywhere in the AARTO Act for outstanding infringement notices, regardless of at what stage an infringement notice is at. Motorists are advised not to be intimidated by threats of arrest levelled at them by JMPD officers manning roadblocks looking for payment of traffic fines. Instead, motorists may ask such officers for a comprehensive printout of any outstanding fines they have, whereafter they should exercise one of the prescribed (legislated) options available to them in terms of the AARTO Act.

It’s a huge pity that the City of Johannesburg and the JMPD have apparently still not reached the realisation that by simply complying with the prescripts of the AARTO Act, it could realise the huge revenues from traffic fines it remains so fixated on budgeting for. It’s an even bigger pity that they apparently have no interest in reducing the incidence of violations of traffic law but instead choose to continue to violate the provisions of the AARTO Act. JPSA looks forward to its day in court.

AARTO draft Regulations comments deadline allegedly extended

JOHANNESBURG – JPSA has today (Friday 29 January 2016) been alerted that the deadline for submissions on the draft AARTO Regulations amendments published for public comment in government gazette 39482 on 7 December 2015 which closed on 7 January 2016 has allegedly been extended to Tuesday 2 February 2016. 

According to DA Shadow Minister for Transport, Mannie de Freitas, this was revealed to him in a letter from Minister Dipuo Peters dated Sunday 24 January 2016. JPSA knows of no formal announcements made by the Department or the Minister of Transport extending this deadline and the SA Government website still quotes the closing date for submissions as 7 January 2016.

If this is true, and we have no reason to believe that it is not, it is bizarre that the public was not notified soon after the 7th of January, since finding out about it now, just 4 days before it re-closes is going to have a limited effect.

The draft AARTO Regulations amendments contemplated in that gazette deal in the main with provisions relating to e-tolls. The non-payment of tolls is not new under AARTO and has always been contemplated in the AARTO Act, which “decriminalises” this infringement, and this has repeatedly been pointed out by JPSA while SANRAL and the Department of Transport was threatening people with criminal records for non-payment of e-tolls in the two years preceding this gazette.

JPSA submitted its submission on this gazette on 29 December 2015 and has raised issues of the unlawfulness of the draft Regulations, which contravene other provisions of the AARTO Act. While we welcome the opportunity for others to submit their comments on these draft Regulations, we have to ask why it is that it has apparently been deemed appropriate to fail to inform the public of the extension of the closing date for comments.

Surely if the Department and Minister of Transport were genuine in seeking inputs from the public, it would not have apparently hidden its intention to extend the closing date for comments? We have grown tired of the ambush tactics which have been adopted around the entire e-tolling issue and find it contemptuous of all concerned to continue to employ such tactics.

Vehicle licence disc renewals - reminders not arriving

JOHANNESBURG – For a significant period of time now, by many vehicle owners have been complaining that vehicle licence renewal reminders have not been received. While the apparent failure may be attributable to the inefficiencies of the South African Post Office, the RTMC or eNaTIS, the City of Cape Town claimed yesterday (27 January 2016) that this is attributable to National Agencies failing to send reminders to vehicle owners.

While the RTMC Act does not place a duty on it to send out licence renewal reminders, it has done so since its formation and the R36.00 transaction fee on eNaTIS transactions is paid to the RTMC. It is not clear whether the specific point of failure is attributable to the SA Post Office, the RTMC or eNaTIS itself, but whatever the reason behind it is, vehicle owners are advised to check their licence discs regularly.

Motorists are reminded that checking the validity of their licence disc on their vehicle is part of the pre-trip inspection which should be performed before driving, not just at the K53 driving licence test.

Should a licence disc be due for renewal and the owner not have received a reminder to renew it, a form ALV will have to be completed.

It is also important to note that counter staff of the SA Post Office are particularly fond of telling people that a warrant of arrest has been issued when people try unsuccessfully to renew their licence discs. While this may be true in the City of Cape Town where administrative blocks are placed on eNaTIS by it on the basis of the existence of a warrant of arrest, it is most likely untrue in other parts of the country.

By far, the most likely cause of a licence disc not being issued is the existence of an enforcement order issued under the AARTO Act. In October 2015, JPSA published an advisory on this matter, yet it still receives numerous enquiries from panicked members of the public who are misled and unduly intimidated by alarmist statements by SAPO counter staff. Motorists are also advised that enforcement orders block the renewal of driving licenses and Professional Driving Permits (PrDP) as well as licence discs.

Despite the National Department of Transport having published in a government gazette 38142 on 31 October 2014 that motorists may make use of an online facility on its website to verify and update their address details the eNaTIS system, no such facility apparently exists on its or the RTMC’s websites. According to the City of Cape Town, such a vehicle licensing facility does exist on its own website however this would only be applicable to Cape Town and not to any other part of the country.