Errant motorists owed Durban a staggering R1.4 billion in unpaid traffic fines with only 14 percent of fines paid this year, the metro police told the city’s finance and procurement committee yesterday.
In a report in which the municipal police force detailed how it planned to collect unpaid fines, it emerged that 3.7 million fines dating back to 2005 were outstanding in Durban.
Metro police spokesman Eugene Msomi told the committee that the number of fines issued had “almost quadrupled in the last few years”.
He said the reason for the huge outstanding sum was that fines had not been collected, and the report to the finance committee offered suggestions how that could be changed.
Commenting on the figures, AA spokesman Gary Ronald said the issue was symptomatic of a greater lawlessness on the country’s roads and people not taking responsibility for their actions.
“Eighty percent of fatal accidents are due to motorists breaking the law,” he said.
“The message is clear: pay your fine. And remember: your law-breaking could kill someone.”
He also said fine collection was a national problem with 80 percent of all fines going unpaid.
“There is a perceived attitude by South African drivers that there are no consequences, so they let it ride and fail to pay,” he said.
Of fines issued by the Durban metro police in 2005, only 54 percent had been collected. Msomi said the average was 30 percent every year since. The city issued about 75 000 tickets for traffic violations every month.
Included in the metro police’s recommendations were steps to encourage people to pay.
- Fines to be halved if they were paid within a month.
- All outstanding fines to be halved, provided a warrant had not been issued.
- Fines older than four years to be scrapped.
Tex Collins, the DA’s caucus leader in eThekwini, said the proposals were positive as the situation was deteriorating. “It is something that needs to be done and is a step in the right direction,” he said.
But, like any law, the recommendations had to be implemented or they would be worthless, he added. He was upbeat about the suggestion that those who paid early would get a discount.
“If people get a R1000 fine, they will sit on it until an amnesty period opens… this is an inducement, something that takes place all the time, and will encourage people to pay. Imagine collecting half of the R1.4bn in fines – it would be R700m; the metro police would be more than self-sustaining,” he said.
The latest figure available in the report showed that, in September, 3145 fines were issued for red robot violations, 13 403 for speeding, 16 867 for parking violations, and 29 326 for “moving and other” violations.
The price tag for this was R26m, although no information on how many of these fines had been paid was available yet.
KZN Transport Department spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said failure to pay fines was a growing trend and citizens were “getting away” with not coughing up.
During the forthcoming holiday, though, there were plans to collect on unpaid tickets.
“We will be focusing on this in roadblocks and those with outstanding fines will be made to pay,” he said.
For this to work, however, the Aarto (Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences), which has been delayed, would have to be implemented.
It was impossible for metro traffic fines to be linked to a person’s driving licence, according to the report.
Fawzia Peer, chairwoman of the finance and procurement committee, said the recommendations needed further discussion.
The proposals would need to be perused by the city’s exco with further planning taking place before they could be implemented.