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
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
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.
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.