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Cape’s R78m road fines bonanza

Crime & Courts

The City of Cape Town has netted over R78 million in income from traffic fines since the start of this financial year.

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Cape Town - 120601 - Inspector Andre Norman points to a driver of where he must park his car after being pulled over at a roadblock. The city makes a net profit of R78 million on traffic fines - A roadblock was held by Provincial and City Traffic Officials on Modderdam road Southbound near the N2 (Bonteheuwel) on Friday night. In the first hour of the road block being set up 8 people were arrested for drunk driving (the lowest alcohol reading on the Drager was 0.38 almost twice the legal limit) The first people to be arrested was an off-duty police officer. The suspects were taken to the Bishop Lavis Police Station for processing. Also nabbed was a 17 year old taxi driver driving an unroadworthy taxi. The normal driver was too drunk to drive so they sent the 17 year old to drive the taxi. The taxi was impounded and the youth was taken to Bishop Lavis police station to wait for his parents before being charged. His parents were also allegedly too drunk to come to the scene. Photo: Matthew Jordaan

In total, the figure collected was R121m. Of that, R43m was paid to the city’s service provider Syntell.

These figures account for the period between July 2011 and April 2012, and were tabled before the city’s finance portfolio committee yesterday.

JP Smith, the city’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, said that, on average, 130 000 traffic offences were recorded each month on Cape Town’s roads.

He said the average monthly traffic fine income was R13m.

Smith said the fine recovery rate was around 50 percent. But the city hoped a series of moves over the next few months would bring that figure to 90 percent.

In the next few months, 20 extra traffic officers would be employed to work solely to execute warrants and serve summonses.

From the beginning of July, there would be more “spy cars” on Cape Town’s roads. These are vehicles fitted with automatic number plate recognition. This would allow officers to “double” Operation Reclaim roadblocks from the beginning of next month.

Smith said the city had also formed an agreement with the provincial department of justice which would see the expansion of municipal courts. From September, three more magistrates and two more prosecutors will be employed. Courts will also sit on multiple days.

The operations would be focused on serial offenders who fail to settle large amounts of outstanding fines.

“We’re not interested in the soft targets. We’re going after the guys who constantly offend and evade the consequences. Those who fail to appear in court… we want 100 percent collections of those warrants.”

On Monday, the city’s finance portfolio committee meeting heard there were cases of officers filling in forms incorrectly. This was leading to a loss of potential income from those fines.

Ian Iversen, a member of the portfolio committee, said he had heard of cases where officers did not fill in the correct suburb when issuing a fine.

Figures show April had the lowest traffic fine income since July last year.

In April, the city earned just over R6m. A further R3.2m was paid to Syntell, which provides camera services to the city. Syntell also handles the processing system for traffic fines.

For the rest of the period, monthly fine income ranged between R7m and R9m, after deducting the fee for the service provider.

The highest amount collected over that period was in July last year, when the net income was R9m, with another R4.9m going to Syntell.

The report states that in the 2010/11 financial year, R142m was generated from traffic fines.

The city has repeatedly taken a hard line against repeat offenders, arresting motorists with outstanding warrants of arrest at their homes and workplaces across Cape Town.

Merle Lourens, city traffic spokeswoman, encouraged motorists to continue settling their outstanding fines.

“Even better, motorists, should try not to commit violations in the first place,” she said. - Cape Argus

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