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They look like innocent green electricity boxes sitting on the side of the road. But motorists be warned: inside is a controversial new speed camera, believed to be illegal.
Nicknamed the 'green mamba', the camera uses radar supplied by speed camera company TMT Services, the local representative of much-publicised e-toll company Kapsch TrafficCom.
The same unmanned cameras - but without the green box housing them - were used in Mpumalanga last year.
The DA complained about the legality of the cameras, and the deputy director of public prosecutions at the Pretoria High Court, advocate George Baloyi, ordered that the equipment's use be discontinued.
Shortly thereafter, TMT Services lost its contract in Mpumalanga.
The DA has laid a complaint with the Public Protector on the illegal revenue that was collected with the cameras, totalling tens of millions of rand.
The equipment has now popped up in Gauteng. TMT has a contract with the Johannesburg metro police department to supply speed cameras.
Howard Dembovsky, the national chairman of Justice Project South Africa, has noticed the 'green mamba' on a few occasions - it has been spotted in the south of Johannesburg along Swartkoppies and Main roads as well as on Vereeniging Road.
Metro police officers had also been found sitting at a distance, guarding the cameras but not operating them.
“Coincidentally, the speed limit on Swartkoppies Road was dropped from 100km/h to 80km/h despite the fact that this road is a dual carriageway and no apparent changes to the topography have occurred,” said Dembovsky.
He said he noticed on pictures he had taken that the cameras were mounted on a concrete block.
The cameras are removed at night and during bad weather because there is no flash illuminator and they can be used only during the day in good light.
Dembovsky said the cameras were illegal because they go against the March 2012 technical committee for standards and procedures prosecuting guidelines for speed-measuring equipment. In particular, clause 1.8 (a) (i) makes it clear that only permanently installed cameras may be used.
It reads: “Only speed-measuring or traffic light violation-monitoring equipment installed in a permanently secured housing may be used for automated operations for prosecution of speed violations and/or traffic light violations.”
The photos taken by the cameras were also misleading because they say 'LaserCam Photo View', even though they are not laser devices but radar, Dembovsky said.
Justice Project SA wants the cameras removed and constitutionally challenged as they do nothing to prevent people from breaking the law.
“Their sole aim is to make money for traffic authorities and businesses alike, whose business models rely on the continued disregard of speed limits by members of the motoring public,” he said.
The AA's Gary Ronald said he believed there needed to be more enforcement of road rules and less trapping.
JMPD spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar defended the cameras, saying they were legal and motorists should expect to see them all over Johannesburg's roads.
He said the cameras were considered permanent because they were housed in a box. - The Star