Conviction and sentencing of Tony Yengeni raises serious questions over DUI

JOHANNESBURG –

Justice project South Africa notes the judgment handed down in a Western Cape Magistrates’ Court on Friday whereat Mr Tony Yengeni was convicted of the offence of driving under the influence of intoxicated liquor (drunken driving) and sentenced to a R30,000 fine or 90 days imprisonment, half of which was suspended for five years, which conviction arose from his arrest for the offence more than three and a half years ago. He now has to pay a fine of R15,000.

It is notable that despite being convicted of this offence, Mr Yengeni’s driving licence was not suspended for a minimum period of six months as is mandatory in terms of Section 35 of the National Road Traffic Act.

In December 2016, a speeding but sober motorist who was driving on a freeway was convicted in a KwaZulu-Natal Magistrates’ Court, sentenced to a R40,000 fine, where no suspended portion applied thereto, but also suspended his driving licence for twelve months.

Both, the Road Traffic Management Corporation and the Minister of Transport publicly vilified the Magistrate in that matter, holding that the man’s driving licence should have been cancelled, as opposed to being suspended.

In 2008, it was revealed by the NIMSS that almost 58% of drivers killed in road traffic crashes had blood alcohol levels in excess of three times the “legal limit” of less than 0,05g per 100ml of blood sampled. It is therefore our considered opinion that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs should be considered to be a very serious crime indeed and the sentences handed down by our courts should reflect this when people are convicted of the crime. Mr Yengeni’s blood alcohol level was apparently five times the “legal limit”.

We trust that the RTMC and Minister will express a similar level of outrage in relation to Mr Yengeni’s matter to that they expressed in the KZN speeding matter.


Page 20 NIMSS Report 2008

JPSA submits its comments on the AARTO Amendment Bill to the Transport Portfolio Committee

JOHANNESBURG –

On 22 February 2017, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport contacted JPSA and ten other such interested parties by email, attaching a newspaper advert which had apparently been published in the weekend newspapers calling for further comment on proposed amendments to the AARTO Act.

JPSA's full submission to the Committee can be found here. Even though the submissions period has already closed on 10 March, it is concerning to us that the Committee's list of proposed amendments, entitled “AARTO A List 10-02-2017” no longer appears on Parliament's website, meaning citizens can no longer scrutinise the proposals.

Some of the proposals are particularly worrisome, such as:

  • Removing the right of an alleged infringer to elect to be tried in court until  a courtesy letter has been issued;
  • Allowing the re-issue of infringement notices where issuing authorities or the RTIA have failed to comply with procedures prescribed by the AARTO Act;
  • Creating an Appeals Tribunal which will take the place of trial in courts; and
  • Allowing salaries, pensions and benefits of RTIA staff to be decided without the involvement of the Minister of Finance.

If the proposals are enacted as law, the AARTO Act will become almost entirely focused on revenue generation and will remain heavily flawed. In addition, we have grave reservations about the constitutionality of several of the proposals, as well as the existing provisions of the Act, which we believe will and currently do lead to unjust “convictions”.

The AARTO Act, the proposals to amend it, and the way in which traffic enforcement is practised in South Africa is not safety-orientated to any acceptable degree.  It’s all about the money and that is very, very sad indeed.

High Court judgment slams AARTO abuses


JOHANNESBURG – On Friday 24 February 2017, the High Court in Pretoria put straight some of the flagrant abuses of power which have been practiced by the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) for a long time now, when Judge Bill Prinsloo ruled in favour of traffic fines management company Fines 4 U (Pty) Ltd and Audi Centre Johannesburg in a tedious and expensive PAJA Review Application brought against the former Deputy Registrar of the RTIA and eight other parties.

In short, Judge Prinsloo ruled that the RTIA and issuing authorities may not do as they wish, act outside of the framework of the AARTO Act and run roughshod over the constitutional rights of motorists. He also found the propensity of the RTIA’s “representations officers” to make some representations successful while rejecting others which were essentially identical to be irrational and the interference of the then Deputy Registrar in the “adjudication” of representations to have been ultra vires (beyond his powers).

The net effect of this landmark judgment is that all of the 570 infringement notices upon which Mrs Cornelia van Niekerk, in her capacity as the proxy for Audi Centre Johannesburg made representation on in 2013 have now been made successful by the setting aside of the clearly irrational and inconsistent decision of making 208 representations unsuccessful and the Deputy Registrar instructing that the remaining 207 which had not yet been “adjudicated” be made unsuccessful, while 155 of them were successful.

All of the said representations were made on identical grounds and it was only the infringement notice numbers, dates, times, places of infringement, as well as the charge code and fine which differed. The nub of those representations centred around the non-service of AARTO infringement notices, as well as the failure of the RTIA to follow other processes which are prescribed in the Act.

Whilst this judgment augers well for other people and entities who have suffered similar abuses by the RTIA, the Judge did not rule and could not have ruled that all similar representations and affected AARTO infringement notices issued since 2008 must be scrapped since this Review Judgment was granted only to Fines 4 U and Audi Centre Johannesburg and was specific to the 415 affected infringement notices.

Any other person who feels that they have been wronged by the Agency and/or the issuing authorities which are compelled to operate within the framework of the AARTO Act will therefore not see their traffic fines being automatically scrapped as a result of this judgment since it was granted exclusively to Fines 4 U and Audi Centre Johannesburg.

What it does mean however is that all similarly affected persons and entities are fully entitled to cite this reportable decided case in making representations to the RTIA.

It is also possible that this judgment will have a material effect on the Application that JPSA has brought in the Pretoria High Court regarding the service, or more specifically, non-service of AARTO documents required to be served by “registered mail” by issuing authorities and the RTIA.

In addition, Justice Project South Africa has long held that the fact that AARTO representations are “adjudicated” by employees of the RTIA who have to report to its management, whose salaries are paid by the RTIA and where the RTIA is funded in the main by revenues derived from traffic fines, as well as by the fees it raises on courtesy letters, enforcement orders and unsuccessful representations, quite simply does not put the RTIA and any of its employees in the position of being an “independent adjudicator” over traffic fines.

JPSA has also held that applications for the revocation of enforcement orders which the Registrar issues in the first place and then gets to decide whether he should revoke them or not similarly does not put him and/or the RTIA in the position of being an “independent adjudicator”.

JPSA’s submission and presentation in September 2016 to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport, which is considering amendments to the AARTO Act, fell on deaf ears and has seen that Committee come up with further proposed amendments to the AARTO Act which seek to trample upon the constitutional rights of motorists. The Committee made JPSA and 10 other interested persons/entities aware of this by email and published its proposed amendments on the Parliament of the RSA website on 22 February 2017, giving interested parties just 16 days to comment.

The full judgment can be viewed here.