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Drivers pass it without a second glance as it sits innocently on the side of the road. The controversial speed camera, nicknamed the “Green Mamba” looks like nothing more than a green electricity box, and has trapped many motorists as a result.
An unmanned Green Mamba was spotted on the R44 near Stellenbosch recently, raising concerns about how legal these “boxes” are.
Stellenbosch traffic department section head Bennie Fourie confirmed that they were actively using the “Green Mamba” speed cameras.
Fourie described the cameras as “semi fixed”, which therefore did not need traffic officers to man them.
He added that the department had received approval from the directorate of public prosecutions to have the metal boxes fixed on concrete sites on the side of the road. Fourie said there were three in the Stellenbosch area, which were under constant surveillance from daylight to sunset.
“There are also Green Mamba sites in Knysna. It’s a fairly new service provider, so there aren’t many yet,” he said.
Chairman of Justice Project SA Howard Dembovsky argues that they are a “money making, revenue making tool and nothing else”.
Last year Dembovsky lodged an official complaint with the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department against the use of the cameras, which he said were illegal because they went against the March 2012 prosecuting guidelines for speed-measuring equipment.
The guidelines stated that only permanently-secured speed monitoring/measuring equipment could be used without a manned traffic officer for prosecuting purposes.
“The guidelines were later changed to allow the cameras to be deployed in an unmanned fashion, a month after my complaint in October. This latest change has been a direct response to the complaint I launched,” he said.
Contradictions within the local authorities are a further cause for concern, with Pat Curran of the provincial traffic department saying that all non-fixed mobile cameras needed to be manned at all times. This statement was also backed by the ministry of transport and public works.
Ministry spokesman Siphesihle Dube said: “All mobile cameras must be manned by an officer, while permanent cameras do not need to be manned.”
The AA’s Gary Ronald agreed: “In order for it to be legal, a traffic officer must be there. The equipment cannot be unmanned.”
He describes the “Green Mamba” camera system as “semi legal.” - Cape Argus