R500 speed fine now a R50 000 penalty

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Wendy Alberts faces arrest unless she pays a R50 000 penalty. Picture: Matthews Baloyi

A Bryanston woman who paid only R250 of a R500 speeding fine has now been hit with a R50 000 penalty by Aarto, the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act.

Wendy Alberts, CEO of the Restaurant Association of SA, racked up three speeding fines in three days last September.

“All of them were at the corner of Ballyclare and William Nichol on September 17, 18 and 19,” she said.

Her fines reached her by ordinary post only in January, and she paid them immediately. Because she had received the fines late, she decided to pay the 50 percent reduced amount offered for payment within 32 days, and paid R250 for each of the three R500 fines.

“I then received a letter from Aarto informing me that the fines were outstanding, so I phoned them and faxed them through the proof that they had been paid. They then told me that I needed to send in representation forms to them by registered mail explaining that I had paid the fines as soon as I had received them. And so I did that,” Alberts said.

ENFORCEMENT ORDER

But on Monday she received an Aarto 09 Result of Representation notice informing her that her representation on the first of the three fines had been rejected and she was now required to pay a penalty of R50 000 within 32 days.

Her only alternative, according to the result notice, is to complete an Aarto 10 form electing to be tried in court, and send this to Aarto and the Johannesburg metro police department, once again by registered mail.

The warning states: “If you fail to comply with this notification, an Enforcement Order will be issued, whereafter you will become liable to pay the penalty and the fees for the Courtesy Letter (if applicable) to the Agency.”

“So I called up Aarto immediately to ask if it was a misprint or they maybe had put in an extra digit on the penalty. But they said no, it was a correct and real penalty, and that I could not come in and see them. And if I wrote to them again for representation it would just be increased,” Alberts said, adding that she was now facing arrest for not paying the R50 000.

“I figured I could stand on a street corner and hope for about R2000 a day to get the money in time, but I don’t think I’d get that. So now I have no option but to wait and see what happens. I’m also probably going to get another two R50 000 penalties arriving tomorrow because I sent all three representations through at the same time,” she said.

“YOU DO DRIVE A BMW”

When Alberts asked the JMPD how the penalty amount of R50 000 had been decided, she was told that rejected representation notices were decided individually, and hers was in all likelihood set high because “you do drive a BMW”.

“I’m single and I have two small children, so there are severe consequences if I’m arrested. What will happen if I get pulled over at a roadblock with my kids in the car, and they decide to arrest me for outstanding fines?” Alberts asked.

Howard Dembovsky, of Justice Project SA, said Alberts should, according to the Aarto Act and regulations, have received her fine within 40 days of the alleged infringement. The JMPD was in violation of their own act in issuing her the fines in the first place.

OUTRAGEOUS PENALTIES

“And how is it that the JMPD gets to send out fines by ordinary mail, yet demand that you send them your communication by registered post?

“I can’t wait to hear the JMPD’s ‘explanation’ of this latest anomaly; there is nothing in the Aarto Act that allows them to make up their own fines which come to 100 times the legislated fine values, nor to threaten anybody with arrest for not paying their illegal fines.”

Dembovsky said he had received two more complaints of outrageous penalties.

Ashref Ismail, spokesman for the Road Traffic Management Corporation, was unable to comment on the R50 000 penalty, saying: “It just doesn’t look right.”

He referred the matter to Japh Chuwe, acting registrar for the RTMC, who said the matter would be investigated and he would be able to respond only on Tuesday - The Star

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