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More than 20 000 speeding tickets have been served on Cape Town drivers forcing them to appear in court – without the option of admission-of-guilt fines – for driving at more than 30km/h over the speed limit.
National legislation was changed in October 2012 to remove the option of admission-of-guilt fines when motorists drive at 90km/h in 60km/h zones, and up to 150km/h and faster in 120km/h zones.
Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said that before this, the percentage of tickets issued without the option of a fine had been minimal.
In August, for example, it was 0.33 percent of all fines issued, and 0.34 percent in September. Since the introduction of the new laws it had leapt to 8.52 percent in October, 9.51 percent in November, 8.62 percent in December and 9.24 percent in January.
By the end of January, notices demanding court appearances numbered 21 615.
Those receiving summonses were to appear in municipal courts, of which there are 11 across the city: Atlantis, Cape Town, Blue Downs, Goodwood, Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Parow, Simon’s Town, Somerset West, the Strand and Wynberg.
Smith said this had resulted in long queues at the courts.
Moreover, he warned, drivers who went 30km/h over the speed limit, and who could not offer legitimate explanations for speeding, would have their licences suspended by magistrates, also under the new law.
Smith said many drivers were unaware of the new law.
AA spokesman Gary Ronald said the speeding ticket figures and long queues did not surprise him.
“This is the inevitable result. Yet, as people catch on to the new laws and penalties, we’ll see fewer of these infringements. What needs to be ensured, though, is that the new law is properly enforced, and for the right reasons. Speed traps should be used for the sole mandate of law enforcement and not as a means for generating revenue,” he said.
AT LEAST 15 TICKETS A DAY, COPS TOLD
Meanwhile, metro police officers operating in and around Mandela Park in Khayelitsha, have been mandated by their managers to issue a minimum of 15 traffic fines a day.
E-mails, dated January 29, to superintendents for the area indicate minimum daily and monthly quotas they expect from officers.
These e-mails were leaked to the Cape Argus by a member of the public who conducted a private investigation into the metro police after he received an “uncannily high” number of fines.
Fearing for his safety, the man refused to be interviewed and referred queries to Yagyah Adams, who is a member of the city’s finance portfolio committee.
Metro police deputy chief Yolanda Faro said the matter had been dealt with last week and that “it carries no substance”.
She referred the Cape Argus to JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security.
The authenticity of the e-mails was corroborated by Smith, who said he was made aware of the leak last week.
He said the metro police did not have a generalised policy of fine quotas for its members, and that the e-mails referred only to a small section of the metro police’s city-wide complement.
Adams disagreed. He said the information in the e-mails indicated a system whereby traffic fines were geared towards being a revenue source, rather than a law enforcement tool.
“Quotas suggest that the priority here is to generate a monetary income. The question obviously remains: are these quotas present in other areas of operation?
“Also, it indicates that motorists from at least one city area stand a higher chance of being fined than those who live or commute in other areas. This is inconsistent and unfair,” he said. - The Argus