Johannesburg - The recent amendments to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Bill, have more to do with making money than improving road safety, says the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse.
“That’s been proved in the Tshwane and Johannesburg metros, where Aarto has been run as a pilot project for the past decade, “ said Outa transport portfolio manager Rudie Heyneke. “The process is administratively cumbersome and will not succeed in the medium to long term.”
When the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Amendment Bill was passed by parliament on 5 September, minister of transport Joe Maswanganyi, said it was a direct result of the untenable and unsustainable road safety challenge in South Africa.
But the amendments are also intended to address the problems Sanral is experiencing in collecting outstanding e-toll payments, by decriminalising the procedure, removing the necessity of serving a court summons and making it a civil process.
The right to defend yourself
This effectively removes your constitutional right to defend yourself when being wrongly accused of a traffic infringement. Once you’re caught up in the civil administrative system, you don’t have the same rights as you would during a criminal process - specifically the right to legal representation and a fair trial.
Heyneke said another concern is the financial gain for the government at the expense of the public that would result from the electronic service of documents - by email or SMS instead of by hand or registered mail - and the provision it makes for any licence issued in terms of transport legislation to be cancelled or withheld for outstanding payments.
If the bill is signed into law as it stands, he said, it will definitely be challenged in the Constitutional Court, leaving the country without efficient legislation that promotes road safety.
He said the organisation believes road safety should be the guiding principle of traffic legislation - not a complex administrative system that focuses on generating revenue for the state. The way to do this, he said, is a more visible policing process, which will go a long way to making motorists more law-abiding and our roads safer.
Outa has submitted comments, he added, and requested to make oral submissions to the Select Committee on Economic and Business Development, to be considered by the National Council of Provinces before the amended bill is approved for the president to sign into law.