Johannesburg - There has been a dramatic increase in the number of speeding fines issued by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department during the past financial year - but the Road Traffic Infringement Agency has warned that the more serious infringements which could contribute to crashes were not receiving enough attention.
The Johannesburg Metro Police Department issued more than six million traffic fines between April 2013 and March 2014 but only four percent were for very serious traffic violations.
More than 5.5 million of the fines issued were camera infringements, mainly speed violations, according to Road Traffic Infringement Agency chief operating officer Thabo Tsholetsane.
The undiscounted value of the fines issued by Johannesburg Metro Police Department was more than R2 billion.
For the 200 000 fines that were paid within a 32 day period and therefore discounted, Johannesburg raked in almost R40 million.
Now these traffic fines have caused tension between the Johannesburg Metro Police Department and the Road Traffic Infringement Agency - because of administrative issues and revenue management.
‘JMPD SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN MORE INTERACTIVE ENFORCEMENT’
Tsholetsane said the Road Traffic Infringement Agency believed that the Johannesburg Metro Police Department and other traffic authorities should be involved in more interactive enforcement with infringers - implying that the metro cops were not as actively participating in law enforcement as they could be.
"The functions and roles of both the Road Traffic Infringement Agency and Johannesburg Metro Police Department have been clarified and addressed as result of a service level agreement finalised between the two parties on all issues including revenue management," he said.
Tsholetsane said in terms of the law, if a motorist paid the penalty within a 32 days period from the date when infringement was committed, a discount of 50 percent was applicable, therefore all penalty amount goes to Johannesburg Metro Police Department.
But if the fine was paid after that, the full amount must be paid, of which 50 percent was due to the metro police who issued it and the other 50 percent to the Road Traffic Infringement Agency.
According to the agency out of the six million fines issued by Johannesburg Metro Police Department more than 151 000 were cancelled because, contrary to the law, they were sent by ordinary mail instead of registered post
‘JOBURGERS REGULARLY DRIVE OVER THE SPEED LIMIT’
Johannesburg Metro Police Department spokesman Edna Mamonyane said the large number of fines because of speed trapping by camera was because Johannesburgers regularly drove over the speed limit.
"People in Johannesburg have got very fast cars and smart cars. The City of Johannesburg is not some small town where people drive slowly," she said. "People are chasing business, closing deals and rushing to airports."
Mamonyane said officers did set up speed traps in high accident zones and some officers also issued hand written infringements for offenses.
Howard Dembovsky, chairman of the Justice Project SA, said while one should be alarmed by the high number of speeding fines, this could be because Johannesburg Metro Police Department only started recording their fines in the eNaTIS in December 2012.
"It's only in the next financial year that we will get a better view of whether they are increasing dramatically or not," he said.
"The figures are not startling revelations but it's a clear indictment that Johannesburg Metro Police Department is focusing on fining people through electronic enforcement. This is the first time that Johannesburg Metro Police Department has not been able to hide their affairs."