Row over politicians' unpaid fines

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IOL mot jun23 finesb INLSA Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Several Gauteng senior politicians and their departments have racked up a raft of traffic fines with official vehicles but have only paid a fraction of the total number of breaches as some vehicles and drivers are exempt from traffic violations.

A senior traffic fines prosecutor told the Saturday Star this week that only a small number of fines issued against provincial vehicles and those belonging to MECs were being paid while the majority were cancelled.

“In terms of the law, senior politician’s vehicles which are driven by members of the SAPS’s VIP protection unit are exempt from traffic law violations,” he said.

“But the problem is that these fines still get issued and in the end they are cancelled once the drivers themselves who are exempt from prosecution make us aware of the relevant fines.”

Vehicles of Gauteng MEC for Economic Development Qedani Mahlangu got 230 fines totalling more than R130 000 for traffic violations in the past year .

The MEC’s own official vehicles got eight fines in total for the year totalling about R6 250.

Mahlangu’s office said it was policy that an individual who got a speeding fine was held responsible for payment.

According to written replies to questions posed by the DA in the provincial legislature, there were significant increases in the number of fines given to departmental vehicles from previous years.

Premier Nonvula Mokonyane’s office received 95 fines totalling R125 000 in the last three years.

Embattled Gauteng local government and housing MEC Humprey Mmemezi’s office said his department, which used only four vehicles had received only nine traffic fines last year totalling R6 750. Mmemezi’s own official vehicles had racked up an additional eight fines totalling R6 250.

The MEC said fines for departmental vehicles and his own were returned to the traffic department with affidavits indicating full details of nominated drivers for re-issue of the ticket in the driver’s name.

Other MECs who reported their traffic violations include Nandi Mayathula-Khoza – MEC for agriculture and rural development whose department received fines totalling R16 375.

She said all drivers of departmental cars, including that of the MEC, were held responsible for speeding fines in terms of policy.

Barbara Creecy, MEC for education did not reveal her department’s fines, saying the fleet of departmental vehicles was operated on behalf of the department by the provincial entity G-fleet.

Mandla Nkomfe, MEC for finance said his department had received 34 fines to the value of R25 900 and that his official vehicles got a further 18 totalling R11 950.

But he said six of the 18 fines totalling R2 750 had been cancelled. The MEC said he had one traffic violation fine personally that would be paid in due course.

The MEC for sport, arts, culture and recreation, Lebogang Maile said his department also used G-fleet vehicles but his official vehicles had three fines last year totalling over R2 500. He said he did not pay any fines since he did not accumulate any as he did not drive the car.

Transport MEC Ismail Vadi had not replied to the DA’s questions but Media 24 reported in April that the MEC’s two official vehicles got nine speeding fines worth more than R12 000 over the past 12 months.The highest saw his car travelling at 109km/h in an 80km/h zone last August, the report said. A fine of R3 000 was issued.

Howard Dembovsky, chairman of the Justice Project SA – lobby group against power abuse of law enforcement – said sending fines to politicians for traffic law violations was “an administrative waste of time and resources” because eNatis failed to recognise exempt drivers and vehicles.

“The MECs’ drivers use the vehicles for shopping and other things yet they put on blue lights because they are exempt from prosecution,” he said.

“The solution is to ban the blue lights to avoid these ridiculous amounts of fines that are not paid.” -Saturday Star


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