JOHANNESBURG – Following an impassioned plea for assistance from young family whose motor car was towed and impounded by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department on National Woman’s Day after they were directed to illegally park their car, Justice Project South Africa feels that it is necessary to again warn motorists that they should avoid taking instructions from “car guards” on public roads.
On Tuesday 9 July 2016, two young parents who had been given tickets to attend the “Emmarentia Live” event in Johannesburg parked their car in a side road, upon the instruction of a car guard wearing a reflective vest who then demanded and was paid a R50.00 “parking fee”. They then proceeded to walk the rest of the way to the event, with their one year old infant in the pram they had brought with them.
On their return, around two hours later they discovered that their car was gone and immediately thought it had been stolen. The car guard present at that time could not offer an explanation as to where their car was – stating that he had “just started his shift”. It was only around an hour later that they discovered from a JMPD officer that their car had been towed to the JMPD’s pound in central Johannesburg and impounded for “illegal parking”.
Only after forking out R2,800 were they allowed to remove their car from the pound and head home.
While the AARTO Act prescribes various fine amounts for “illegal parking” there is nothing which prohibits a traffic authority from towing a vehicle which is regarded to constitute an obstruction or danger to other traffic. Since the JMPD is one of the City of Johannesburg’s self-confessed revenue generation mechanisms, it stands to reason that they would opt to tow as many vehicles as possible and impound them for such infractions, given the fact that the owner thereof has no choice but to immediately pay if they want their vehicle released.
Car guards, etc. have absolutely no authority in terms of South African traffic law to instruct motorists to do anything, least of all park their vehicles. Only formally appointed parking attendants in pre-demarcated parking zones have the “authority” to demand up-front payment for “pay and display” parking, etc.
Whilst it is completely true and valid to say that the JMPD should take care not to allow illegitimate “car guards” to operate at public events at which the JMPD is present, it is sadly also true to say that they generally don’t and all motorists are bound by the provisions of the National Road Traffic Act and its Regulations.
Motorists therefore have the direct obligation to abide by the provisions of legislation and should never, everallow themselves to be conned by “official-looking” car guards, etc. Whether or not it is accompanied by a properly posted road traffic sign, a yellow painted edge line means “no parking” and a red painted edge line means “no stopping”. Parking on any sidewalk is also prohibited.
Motorists are therefore urged to never follow the instructions and/or directions given to them by car guards where it is clearly apparent that parking is prohibited. Doing so can result in very expensive “school fees” becoming immediately payable and huge inconvenience being imposed upon you.