RTIA might have to refund fines

By ANGELIQUE SERRAO Time of article published Apr 18, 2016

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Angelique Serrao

JOHANNESBURG: The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) may be forced to refund motorists any fines and fees paid for courtesy and enforcement notices not sent through registered mail since 2008.

This is after a legal bid was launched which, if successful, could also see the practice of issuing enforcement orders – which prevent renewal of driving and car licences – stopped when service of the preceding notices could not be absolutely proven.

Yesterday, Justice Project SA (JPSA) filed an affidavit against the RTIA, the minister of Transport, the director-general of the Department of Transport, the City of Joburg, the Johannesburg metropolitan police department (JMPD), the City of Tshwane and the Tshwane metropolitan police department in the high court in Pretoria.

The RTIA is responsible for the issuing and service of documents other than infringement notices issued under the Aarto (Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences) Act.

JPSA is asking that the court make declaratory orders:

lOn the interpretation of the term “registered mail”.

lThat the respondents comply with the provisions of the act.

lThat documents be served by registered mail.

lThat the RTIA cancel all documents which were not served by registered mail since the start of Aarto in July 2008.

JPSA has also asked that the applicants refund everyone who paid fines for infringement notices which were served unlawfully, as well as fees paid for courtesy letters and enforcement orders.

Section 30(1) of the Aarto Act states that “any document required to be served on an infringer in terms of the act, must be served on the infringer personally or sent by registered mail”.

In the affidavit, JPSA chairperson Howard Dembovsky said traffic authorities cited as respondents have utilised a service in the Post Office known as “secure mail”, or hybrid mail, to post documents to alleged infringers.

Dembovsky argues in the papers that unlike registered mail, notifications to collect documents sent by secure mail are sent to a centralised hub in Jet Park and then dispatched via the ordinary mail system to the recipient. He said it was an unreasonable presumption that the notification had been delivered.

“It is submitted that it is grossly unreasonable for anyone to expect an allegedly errant motorist to collect and act upon an infringement notice or other Aarto document if they are unaware one is awaiting collection,” Dembovsky said.

No driving licence or licence disc may be issued if an enforcement order has been issued, until it has been paid or revoked.

The respondents have 15 working days to indicate whether they will be opposing the application. Fakazi Malindzisa, from RTIA, had not responded to queries by the time of going to press.

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