Cape clamping down on fine dodgers

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Copy of traffic fines

Independent Newspapers

Since December , more than 200 000 vehicles have been stopped and checked for wide ranging traffic violations. File photo: Matthew Jordaan

The city of Cape Town has netted more than R78 million in income from traffic fines since the start of this financial year.

In total, the figure collected was R121 million. Of that, R43 million was paid to the city’s service provider Syntell.

These figures account for the period between July 2011 and April 2012, and were tabled before the city’s finance portfolio committee on Monday.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smithsaid that, on average, 130 000 traffic offences were recorded each month on Cape Town’s roads.

He said the average monthly traffic fine income was R13 million.

Smith said the fine recovery rate was about 50 percent. But the city hoped a series of moves over the next few months would bring that figure to 90 percent.

In the next few months, 20 extra traffic officers would be employed to work solely to execute warrants and serve summonses.

From the beginning of July, there would be more “spy cars” on Cape Town’s roads. These are vehicles fitted with automatic number plate recognition. This would allow officers to “double” Operation Reclaim roadblocks from the beginning of next month.

Smith said the city had also formed an agreement with the provincial department of justice which would see the expansion of municipal courts. From September, three more magistrates and two more prosecutors will be employed. Courts will also sit on multiple days.

The operations would be focused on serial offenders who fail to settle large amounts of outstanding fines.

“We’re not interested in the soft targets. We’re going after the guys who constantly offend and evade the consequences. Those who fail to appear in court; we want 100 percent collections of those warrants.”

On Monday the city’s finance portfolio committee meeting heard there were cases of officers filling in forms incorrectly. This was leading to a loss of potential income from those fines.

Ian Iversen, a member of the portfolio committee, said he had heard of cases where officers did not fill in the correct suburb when issuing a fine.

Figures show April had the lowest traffic fine income since July 2011.

In April, the city earned a little more than R6 million. A further R3.2 million was paid to Syntell, which provides camera services to the city. Syntell also handles the processing system for traffic fines.

TAKING A HARD LINE

For the rest of the period, monthly fine income ranged between R7 million and R9 million, after deducting the fee for the service provider.

The highest amount collected over that period was in July 2011, when the net income was R9 million, with another R4.9 million going to Syntell.

The report states that in the 2010/11 financial year, R142 million was generated from traffic fines.

The city has repeatedly taken a hard line against repeat offenders, arresting motorists with outstanding warrants of arrest at their homes and workplaces across Cape Town.

City traffic spokeswoman Merle Lourens encouraged drivers to continue settling their outstanding fines.

“Even better, drivers should try not to commit violations in the first place,” she said. - Cape Argus

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