Cash for busting friends with fines

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A man who faces 53 charges of traffic violations amounting to R44 750, hides his face at the traffic court. Picture: Thomas Holder

The City of Cape Town is planning to pay people to rat on their family and friends who owe traffic fines.

The city intends releasing the names of the top 100 traffic offenders, offering a R10 000 award for information that will lead to their arrests.

It is one of a range of measures to arrest Cape Town’s worst traffic offenders.

So far culprits have not been easy to find. Some have been traced to prison, others have been arrested in sting operations, while one tried to evade authorities by hiding under his bed.

During the investigation, officers found one offender had died.

Now in its bid to trace the worst offenders, the city will offer rewards ranging from R2 000 and R10 000 to residents who can provide information that will lead to arrests.

In the past few weeks, the city’s Special Investigations Unit has been working through the night to find Cape Town’s top offenders, who collectively owe more than R6 million.

Some have more than 100 arrest warrants to their names.

One, whose location has been traced, has more than 200. And, with the up to R10 000 for a reward, the city is confident it will find these offenders.

JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security, said the offenders had “nowhere left to hide”.

Last week, SIU officers traced a man who had 53 arrest warrants worth more than R40 000. He was traced to Brandvlei prison and hauled before the Cape Town traffic court on Friday morning. He is serving a three-year sentence for robbery.

Smith said co-operation between the city and prison authorities led to Friday’s court appearance. In some cases, courts are not aware that awaiting trial prisoners even have outstanding warrants for traffic fines.

This can play a role in bail applications.

It was found that many of them had more than five recorded addresses and were not found at any of them.

A few weeks ago, the city’s SIU started working on finding those offenders deemed “untraceable”.

Smith said it was just one of the operations driven towards bringing repeat offenders to book.

He gave further details on the city’s plan to release a full list of the top 100 offenders.

Their names and identity numbers will be published. And tipsters will be able to receive financial rewards between R2000 and R10 000 for information leading to an arrest.

The tipsters will remain anonymous.

“You won’t be able to hide. Someone will know your name and where you are. And there’s a worthwhile incentive in it for them,” said Smith.

Yet, some offenders are going to drastic lengths to avoid being caught.

On Thursday night, officers traced an offender, who owed R93 000, to Tafelsig in Mitchells Plain. He had 85 arrest warrants.

Smith said the man had been ‘elusive’ and when officers visited the home, his wife said he was not there.

However, after she agreed to a search of the home, he was found hiding under the bed. The base of the bed had been hollowed out. He was taken to Wynberg police station.

They are also expected to swoop soon on a man with more than 200 warrants, worth just over R166 000.

During the SIU’s investigations, it also traced a man with more 92 warrants, worth R106 000. However, he had since passed away. Another offender, who had 64 arrest warrants, was arrested during a sting operation earlier this month.

One of the top 10 offenders was found in Pollsmoor awaiting trial for armed robbery.

The top 100 offenders have more than 9000 arrest warrants among them, with a value of more than R6 million.

Those with traffic fines will also not be able to renew their vehicle or drivers licences as ‘admin marks’ will alert officials of the outstanding warrants. The motorist will either have to pay up or be arrested at city traffic offices.

Smith said the city had noted an increase in the number of people settling their warrants since the launch of the ‘admin marks’. - Cape Argus

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