Are traffic fines sent by regular mail legal, or do you ignore them?
Following recent conflicting media reports which have left motorists confused about their rights, Howard Dembowsky of the Justice Project South Africa, in layman's terms, steers us through the legal spaghetti:
A traffic fine arrives in the post demanding payment for your licence to speed - what should you know and do?
Well, if you frequent the operational areas of the Johannesburg and Tshwane Metro Police Departments, then it will be in the form of an Aarto 03 infringement notice which must be sent by registered mail, but if it's from anywhere else then it will be a “first notice of offence” under section 341 of the Criminal Procedure Act and may be sent by ordinary mail.
The two are enormously different to one another and have completely different consequences if you just ignore them. Under the Criminal Procedure Act which applies everywhere in the country except for Johannesburg and Tshwane where Aarto is being piloted, the end and worst consequence could be that a warrant of arrest is issued against you and you could face being locked up over an entire weekend, but this will only happen if you ignore a summons to appear in court.
Under Aarto, there is no warrant of arrest, but don't break out the bubbly just yet! In the first 32 days from service, a 50 percent discount is offered if you cough up, but if you don't then you will lose the discount and be charged a further R60 for a Courtesy Letter which gives you another 32 days to pay.
If you do, then that will be the end of it, but if you don't then an Enforcement Order will be issued and this is where things will become tricky for you. An Enforcement Order will cost you an extra R60, but it will also block all licensing transactions on eNatis.
This means that you will not be able to register a new vehicle, renew your licence disc for any vehicle you own, and you will not be able to renew your driving licence or apply for a new class of licence until such time as the Enforcement Order is cleared by you paying it or making successful application to have it revoked.
There's another step in the Aarto process. Called a Warrant of Execution it allows the Sherriff to come and grab your stuff to sell off to pay your fines, but we won't go into that, since apparently none have been issued under Aarto yet.
As you can see, ignoring your Aarto fines that are sent to you by registered mail isn't only silly, it will make your life very difficult inside less than four months. That is if the processes are followed in accordance with the Aarto Act, but what if they aren't?
DON’T CAVE IN
The Johannesburg Metro Police Department have recently threatened that licensing transactions will be blocked if you don't pay your Aarto fines, but what they haven't told you is that this is only legal if the JMPD themselves have complied with the Aarto Act.
As you should know by now, the JMPD sends most of its Aarto infringement notices by ordinary mail which is not only against the law, but also has the effect of not allowing them to proceed to any future steps.
It's not smart to just ignore an Aarto infringement notice which arrives by ordinary mail and you should make representation on the Aarto 08 form to have it withdrawn.
If it's not withdrawn then you should elect to be tried in court instead of just caving in, since that's exactly what the JMPD wants you to do. If we don't demand that cops obey the law when they want to prosecute us, then we are sanctioning a police state and if we do that, then we deserve to be abused.
JPSA has complained to the Public Protector about the JMPD but a decision is still to be made by her office. - Star Motoring