A minibus taxi cruises through a red light: File photo: Tim Whitfield / Independent on Saturday
Polokwane, Limpopo - Motorists who skip a red traffic light or don't stop at a stop sign in Polokwane can now be fined as much as 20 percent of their monthly salary, in terms of new penalties approved by courts in the Polokwane municipal area from September 1.

The national department of transport confirmed the changes, saying the fine schedules were reviewed annually by the department of justice as well as the respective municipal traffic departments. The aim was to contain lawlessness, it said.

A motorist from eManzimtoti, however, commented that hugely increased traffic fines wouldn't work in eThekwini Municipality; they would instead result in more corruption, as some taxi drivers offered bribes to police officers.

He wrote to the Daily News complaining about taxi drivers’ behaviour in the suburb’s Arbour Road, saying  he'd seen such incidents himself.

“I see motorists, mostly taxi drivers, driving straight through stop streets and red traffic lights," he wrote. "Taxi drivers’ latest trick when approaching a long queue waiting for the traffic light to turn green is to simply drive on the wrong side of the road in the face of oncoming traffic, and then cut through the intersection while the light is still red.”

The answer, he said, was more  metro police enforcement, rather than draconian  fines.
A minibus taxi 'jumps the queue' by driving up the wrong side of the road. File photo: Howard Dembovsky
'Don't play police'

Metro police spokesman Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad urged him to send his concerns about Arbour Road, in writing, to the metro police; h e advised motorists against trying to 'play police' when they spotted others skipping red traffic lights.

“The difficulty with sending in evidence such as pictures of licence plates," he said, "is that the accused might not come to court and might threaten the whistle-blower. Don’t become the police. Instead, go to the nearest metro police station to report it.”

Sewpersad added that increasing admission of guilt fines for skipping a red traffic light had not been discussed in Durban yet.

“The admission of guilt fine is determined by the National Prosecuting Authority," he said, "and in instances where there is no admission of guilt, the court decides how much a fine should be.”

Automobile Association spokesman Layton Beard said with any penalty there needed to be consistency.

“The penalties should be fair and in line with national regulations," he said, "and there should also be checks and balances in place to guard against possible corruption.”

The Mercury