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.