Keen camera leads to dud red robot fines
By Jeanne van der Merwe
Zealous traffic officers are blushing after sending fines to motorists photographed driving through red traffic lights at a busy Foreshore intersection in Cape Town.
When motorists queried the fines, closer inspection of the electronic pictures - taken at the corner of Buitengracht Street and Coen Steytler Avenue - showed a traffic officer on point duty waving cars through the crossing.
Dimo Tomchev was sent a R300 fine after a camera snapped his daughter "jumping" a red light in his car in December.
Six other motorists were also affected.
Tomchev went to the Cape Town traffic department on Friday to view the picture to make sure it was his car.
He saw a traffic officer in the background of the photograph waving traffic through the intersection. The lights were apparently out of order.
Red-faced officials promptly wrote off the fine.
Tomchev said: "Few people actually bother to inspect photos taken by electronic cameras. Most people just pay the fines."
When Saturday Argus asked the traffic department how many motorists had been fined for the same "offence", traffic officials studied the pictures again and identified six hapless drivers.
Officer Laetetia Smit said her section, which dealt with offences at traffic lights, did not always get advance notice when officers directed cars through the lights.
"Usually when we go through the spools (of offender pictures) and we see a traffic official in the picture, we don't fine the drivers.
"In this case, the official was standing in an awkward place and was not easy to spot."