File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA).
File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA).

Drivers urged to check their camera-based fines carefully following alleged errors

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Feb 18, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - South African motorists have been urged to carefully check any camera-based traffic fines that they receive. This follows allegations that some motorists have been incorrectly charged with infringements and criminal offences that they didn’t commit.

According to Howard Dembovsky, chairperson of the Justice Project South Africa (JPSA), these errors are being caused by ‘capture errors’.

“In one recent case, a motorist faced a criminal charge because the location of the infringement was incorrectly recorded,” Dembovsky said.

In that instance, the motorist was driving at 134km/h in a 120km/h zone, and should thus have received a fine for exceeding the limit by 14km/h. But instead the location at which the violation was alleged to have occurred was given as an 80km/h urban road many kilometres away. This is in spite of the fact that the picture clearly shows the motorist on a freeway.

“Using the incorrect location, the motorist was no longer alleged to have been just 14km/h over the speed limit, but a massive 54km/h over it. Exceeding the speed limit by more than 30km/h in an urban area is automatically classified as a criminal offence and triggers a mandatory court appearance,” Dembovsky explained.

“For this reason, it is essential that the authorities record the location of an alleged violation correctly, both to prevent spurious criminal charges like in this case, but also to ensure genuine traffic offenders are brought to book.”

He added that the JPSA was assisting the motorist to have the defective notice of intention to prosecute him in court withdrawn but remained concerned that the same location mistake may have applied to many other camera violations recorded at the same place on the same day.

"Camera violations are meant to be reviewed by traffic officer before being issued to prevent this kind of error. JPSA no longer has confidence that these reviews are being done properly, or indeed at all, which raises the greater question of what levels of oversight exist in traffic law enforcement," Dembovsky concluded.

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