Easter road death ‘decline’ no cause for celebration - JPSA

JOHANNESBURG – While it is encouraging to note that this year’s Easter road death toll is down on 2015, it is important to note the Minister of Transport’s opening statements made with respect to the somewhat unique situation that prevailed this year.

The fact that last week only comprised of three days with Human Rights Day falling on the 21st and Good Friday falling on the 25th of this month, coupled with the school holidays coinciding with these public holidays would naturally mean that traffic concentrations would have been significantly lower than they would ordinarily be over an Easter long-weekend.

In addition, the fact that this Easter fell before the month-end on which many people receive their salaries would have also have had an influence.

Without detracting from the efforts made by dedicated law enforcement officials who were out in force over the Easter period, we remind the public that the Human Rights Day long-weekend saw terrible carnage on our roads.

A seeming 46% reduction in road fatalities from 286 last year to 156 this Easter is no cause for celebration and it is most certainly no reason for motorists to let their guard down. Defensive driving is key to assuring one’s own and family’s safety on our roads.

JPSA also acknowledges the efforts of the RTMC’s anti-corruption unit in arresting two corrupt traffic officers over the Easter weekend. Eradicating corruption in both, law enforcement and vehicle and driver testing stations must be regarded as a priority since without a concerted effort in tackling corruption – every other road safety strategy will achieve very little.

The arrest of 913 motorists for driving under the influence of alcohol and 502 for excessive speeding is cause for concern, particularly in light of the fact that convictions for DUI offences are and remain extremely low. It is simply astounding that these people seem to have little or no regard for their own self-preservation, let alone the lives and wellbeing of other road users. The sooner that our authorities and government laboratories get their acts together and start convicting those charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (or drugs), the sooner a message will be sent that it is not alright to drive drunk.

The notion of denying persons charged with these crimes bail is simply outrageous and is going to open up the floodgates for civil damages claims when people are acquitted or charges are withdrawn. JPSA encourages the Minister to drop the ridiculous notion of imposing punishment on persons charged with crimes ahead of their conviction and implores her to pay attention to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa she has sworn to uphold.

Criminal behaviour by JMPD officer cannot go unpunished

JOHANNESBURG – The latest video depicting JMPD officers abusing a motorist to go viral acutely demonstrates the urgent need for proper training and discipline which exists in the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department.


Quite aside from the assault which took place on video, several other unlawful actions are apparent in this video.

Firstly, a number plate is vaguely visible on the rear of the bakkie (pick-up), thus meaning that the motorist failed to display one of the two number plates a vehicle other than a motorcycle or trailer is required to display.

This is defined as an infringement in terms of charge code 1210 in Schedule 3 of the AARTO Regulations and prescribes a fine of R500 (R250 if paid within 32 days) to be issued on an infringement notice. The arrest of the motorist and impound of such a vehicle is strictly unlawful in these circumstances.

The charge code 1211 “Failed to affix both number plates of a vehicle thereto” which the metro policeman can be heard mentioning, albeit being terribly badly worded in Schedule 3 means “failed to display any number plates” on a vehicle requiring two number plates and is defined as an offence for which one can be arrested and brought before a court to stand trial for that criminal offence.

Secondly, there was absolutely no need for the aggressive metro policeman to make a U turn and drive the motorist’s vehicle in the wrong direction down the wrong side of the road, additionally dropping the clutch and causing the vehicle’s tyres to spin on the roadway.

While spinning the wheels of a vehicle is an infringement for the owner of a vehicle to commit and carries with it a R1,000 fine, it must be remembered that the metro policeman was not the owner of the vehicle and had an additional duty of care not to cause or expose the vehicle to risk of loss or damage.

The combination of his actions constitutes assault, reckless driving and malicious damage to property, all of which are criminal offences. He has also opened himself and the JMPD up to a civil claim for unlawful or false arrest, depending on what happened after the video ended and whether the motorist was actually taken to a police station and charged.

The RTMC has announced that from 1 April 2016, all traffic officers will have to undergo three years’ training. Metro policemen and women have to undergo a further six months’ training in order to be appointed as metro policemen and women.

Whilst it is curious to note that “old school” traffic officers only underwent three months’ training prior to the establishment of metro police entities, it is quite clear that many of the thugs in uniform who operate on our roads; purporting to be law enforcement officers are in desperate need of proper retraining in order to understand where their powers begin and end, not to mention understanding the provisions of traffic law.

Behaviour such as has been demonstrated in this video cannot go unpunished and it is our sincere hope that the motorist concerned will lay formal criminal charges against the metro policeman concerned and that the JMPD will take the appropriate corrective action on a disciplinary level.

This said, it is rare for the JMPD to do anything in the absence of a formal complaint from the motorist concerned and its management and spokespersons are all too often extremely quick to jump to the defence of the indefensible actions of abusive so-called “officers” who see fit to act as thugs and drag all of their colleagues into the stereotypical views that the public holds that all metro police are little more than criminals in uniform.

UPDATE:

It has been reported that shortly after the video went viral, Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar of the JMPD contacted Ms Carmen Bell and promised that the matter will be investigated. JPSA is pleased that the JMPD has apparently been proactive in this matter and will monitor the situation.

ETC’s e-tolls debt recovery claims are outrageous - JPSA

JOHANNESBURG – Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) has noted the outrageous claims being made by Electronic Toll Collection (Pty) senior executives, Jamie Surkont and Mark Ridgeway with respect to planned “e-tolls debt recovery” methodologies they are allegedly implementing on behalf of SANRAL which were made just two days after Gauteng Premier, David Makhura alleged that people are not paying e-tolls “because they are unaffordable” in his SOPA address.

It is extraordinary to note that ETC’s plans to approach the courts is alleged to be commencing in “two weeks’ time”. The 60% discount on outstanding e-tolls which commenced in November 2015 expires on 1 May 2016, yet ETC is, according to its own assertions, jumping the gun by proceeding to issue summonses a full 6 weeks prior to this expiry date.

It is bizarre that people are being expected to believe that motor dealers whose industry is dependent on having salable stock to sell would have approached ETC to create the so-called “vehicle listing” which would severely hamper their ability to sell second hand motor vehicles. This claim could be likened to saying that it was Radovan Krejcir who approached legislators to make dealing in narcotics and engaging in organised crime offences. In light of this, we hereby call upon ETC to provide proof of their claim that it was the second hand motor industry which approached them and not the other way around, or at all.

It is further extraordinary to note that all of this is allegedly to happen ahead of any outcome of the legality of issuing invoices derived out of the use of electronic equipment which is not compliant with and/or approved for use in terms of the former Trade Metrology Act and current Legal Metrology Act. As things stand, there is significant evidence of the fact that not only is SANRAL’s electronic equipment not compliant with the provisions of legislation they are not exempt from, but that they failed to acquire exemption from the provisions of the Legal Metrology Act when they tried to do so.

While SANRAL was sure to have itself exempted from the National Credit Act so it may abuse legislation intended to protect consumers from reckless lending and becoming over-indebted; it has not done similar in terms of the Legal Metrology Act and until such time that it can prove that it is compliant therewith, it must be presumed to be acting in violation of that Act and indeed, illegally.

Should the outcome of the Freedom Front Plus’ complaint to the National Consumer Commission which is based on substantial, reliable evidence that SANRAL is not compliant with the Legal Metrology Act be that invoices generated using noncompliant electronic measuring equipment are deemed to be illegal and in the meantime, courts have granted judgments against so-called “debtors” and ordered them to pay, it goes without saying that not only will the civil claims for refunds and compensation undoubtedly represent one of the biggest of its kind ever in South Africa’s history, but the legitimacy of the courts also come into serious question.

Despite the fact that ETC is acting on behalf of SANRAL, it is doubtful that they will be able to hide behind SANRAL’s status of being a State Owned Company by using arguments some lawyers for the State have become fond of using where it is claimed that should the court order refunds for illegal actions, “service delivery will be adversely affected” should the court be approached to compel refunds and compensation to those who have paid.

The actions of ETC and SANRAL can easily be associated the crime of extortion, which is prohibited in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. Just because their current weapons of choice are debt collectors, the SANRAL Act and the e-Road Regulations read in isolation of any other legislation, as opposed to kidnapping, guns and boiling kettles does not change things.

We remind everyone that their previous weapon of choice was to threaten people with criminal records for non-payment of e-tolls and that they even tried to misrepresent the conviction of Mr Stoyan Stoychev for number plate fraud as being the “first e-tolls conviction”. Since the publication of draft AARTO Regulations amendments in December 2015, this has been abandoned in favour of the new weapons of choice.

It’s a pity that SANRAL and ETC have chosen to act in this manner and appear to possess an insatiable appetite for acting as thugs and violating the laws and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. They are not above the law and should be dealt with accordingly. We look forward to that day.