File picture: Boxer Ngwenya / Independent Media.
Cape Town - There is good news for motorists with outstanding traffic fines, as fines to the tune of R854 million will be written off by the City of Cape Town in the next financial year.

Mayco member for safety, security and social services JP Smith explained that these fines had aged and could not be collected any more.

“It comes after the Treasury changed their accounting system.”

The City issues 180 000 fines a month.

“But we have a 35% collection rate, which is the highest in the country. The biggest offenders are taxi drivers who do not pay their traffic fines. One person would have between 140 and 190 outstanding warrants of arrest.

“What happens is that when we arrive at the addresses given by the motorists, officers are told that the offenders are not there. But the City has allocated a budget of R4m to employ more people to be able to collect the outstanding money. People need to be held accountable and change their driving behaviour.

“Currently we are only allowed to impound their vehicles for two weeks when they contravene traffic rules,” Smith said.

Peter Stenslunde, from the Constantia Ratepayers and Residents Association, also explained: “We have been advised for the last three years running that the City will employ its own legal resources to pursue these fines and that ‘things are getting better’.

“Clearly they are not. Unpaid fines for the past five years amount to R4.5 billion of revenue in present value terms - not to mention all the resources deployed in issuing them. This is astronomical. They need a dedicated team to collect fines so that they can collect a large portion of them.

“It is also not true that they are collecting 35% of the money. It is actually 25%. This money is also not collected, but they rely on people to pay it. In terms of the accounting systems, this outstanding fine money is not recorded at present

“Treasury has said it should be recorded. It was just written off. They now also have to reflect that they have written the monies off.”

Cape Argus