Justice Project South Africa (NPC) was established as a non-profit organisation in 2008 and registered as a non-profit company in 2010. We receive no funding whatsoever from government or any other institutions and rely solely on member contributions and donations. Despite this fact, a large contingent of the motoring public appear to be of the opinion that JPSA is here to assist them – free of charge and regardless of whether they are members or not, whenever they fall foul of the law and those who enforce it. We would love to be able to change this perception and encourage more people to become members, however this does not mean that we will ever turn a non-member away if they need our help.
Justice Project South Africa has and maintains what some consider to be a relatively narrow focus and there is a very good reason for this. Road traffic law and the enforcement thereof is a lot more complicated than most people would like to think it would be. We would rather focus on a single area and do a good job of it than lose focus and do a poor job of a wider range of things. It is for this reason that we rarely get involved in anything outside of our core objectives. There are other organisations which deal with other areas and for this reason, we often refer people who approach us with other matters to those organisations.
Our objectives are simple enough, albeit that achieving them definitely is not as simple as it may appear to be.
We furthermore encourage and promote understanding of traffic laws amongst our members, thereby encouraging compliance.
JPSA’s core objectives are as follows:
- Ensuring that road traffic legislation is fair and equitable and is primarily enacted to achieve enhanced road safety objectives;
- Ensuring that laws which have been enacted are enforced in a fair and equitable fashion, free of corruption;
- Ensuring that amendments to, or the introduction of new road traffic legislation is fair and doesn’t contravene other provisions of the law;
- Ensuring that authorities do not abuse the legislative framework for ulterior motives;
- To work with ethical and professional authorities to actively tackle corruption issues;
- Ensuring that its members are represented properly in the pursuance of these objectives; and
- Constantly educating its members and motorists in general on their rights and responsibilities.
It is our standpoint that good laws are those which are enforced properly and are complied with by everyone to whom they apply and seek to regulate.
We are acutely aware of the fact that motorists are not angels and often violate traffic law – either intentionally or more often than not, unintentionally. We are also aware of the sad fact that driving skills in South Africa leave much to be desired and that defensive driving is sorely lacking amongst the motoring public. For this reason, we have formed partnerships with other organisations and businesses which specialise in driver training so we may refer people to them to upgrade their skills. We also do what we can to educate our members and the public in general.
Justice Louis D Brandies (1856-1941) was a very wise US Supreme Court Judge and said “Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. … Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for the law: it invites every man to become a law unto himself, it invites anarchy.”
He also said “To declare that in the administration of criminal law the end justifies the means to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure conviction of a private criminal would bring terrible retribution.”
Unfortunately, it would seem that his wisdom has gone unheeded, given the fact that it is not uncommon for traffic authorities to break the law in order to enforce it. A perfect example of this comes from the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) and City of Johannesburg’s abuses of prescripts of the AARTO Act from June 2010 to December 2012. During that time, the JMPD posted millions of AARTO infringement notices by ordinary mail instead of using registered mail to serve them.
JPSA jumped on this issue immediately in 2010 and eventually, in December 2014 the Public Protector made an adverse finding against the JMPD and the City of Johannesburg in her report entitled “a matter of interpretation” which resulted from our complaint. As a result, more than 6.5 million outstanding illegal infringement notices, representing a reported R1.5 billion were cancelled in April 2015. We did not do this in order to assist delinquent motorists to escape their own wrongdoing – we did so because it is unreasonable for law enforcement authorities to break the law in order to enforce it.
JPSA has also been extremely vocal about our opposition the injustice of the Gauteng e-tolls debacle and although the battle against the irrationality of ring-fencing the cities of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane with toll roads still rages on, this issue represents only a very small portion of the matters we become involved in, it is nonetheless an issue we remain involved in.
To quote Justice Louis D Brandies yet again “If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable” and it can hardly be said that anything about the laws surrounding e-tolls and the way in which SANRAL has attempted to shove them down citizens’ throats by engaging in treats of draconian (and unlawful) prosecution is in any way respectable.
Believe it or not, in late 2015 we became aware of the fact that registered mail has not been used by any of the authorities to post any documents required to be served by registered mail in terms of the AARTO Act. Instead, a service called “secure mail” has been used and this service does not achieve the same results registered mail does. JPSA has taken this matter up and is set to take it to court during the first quarter of 2016.
It is important to note that just because JPSA does not simply sit back and allow authorities to break the law in order to enforce it does not mean that we are anti-government or anti-law enforcement. In fact, quite the opposite is true and JPSA has consistently proven its commitment to working with various law enforcement agencies as well as with legislators for the betterment of traffic law and its enforcement.
It is important to note that just because JPSA does not simply sit back and allow authorities to break the law in order to enforce it does not mean that we are anti-government or anti-law enforcement. In fact, quite the opposite is true and JPSA has consistently proven its commitment to working with various law enforcement agencies as well as with legislators for the betterment of traffic law and its enforcement. In some instances, this has been quietly welcomed by those authorities and in others, they have embarked on smear campaigns against us in order to try to mislead the public into believing that JPSA is the one who is misleading them.
Some other road safety practitioners as well as some in government have chosen to brand JPSA as being antagonistic towards government and law enforcement agencies and have thus chosen to distance themselves from us. While it is most certainly true that “you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” it is equally true that “one can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs”. We are not in the business of catching flies. There are plenty of organisations and individuals who prefer to adopt an approach of singing the praises of those who don’t deserve it in the hope that sucking up to them will bring results, despite proof to the contrary consistently being presented, but we prefer to tackle things in a more direct and decisive manner. When diplomatic efforts and letter-writing fails, we are left with no other choice but to approach the courts in order to enforce our members’ rights and when we do, we make sure that we have all of our ducks in a row to ensure the desired outcome.
Our members are the most important people to us since without them, we would not exist and be able to continue to exist. We would therefore appeal to you to join JPSA and help us to help you and other motorists who are seen as sitting ducks by unethical and corrupt authorities.