Joburg motorists owe a whopping R2.01 billion for 9.6 million speeding fines over the past two years.
Only 4 percent of motorists are paying the Adjudication of Road Traffic Offence Act (Aarto) fines being piloted in Joburg and Pretoria.
And according to Joburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) spokesman Wayne Minnaar, the number is decreasing with a culture of non-payment growing.
To add to its woes, the JMPD is spending R16.5 million a month – R9.5m for the sending of the fines by registered mail, and R7m a month to the contractor operating the speed cameras – knowing the money will never be recouped.
WHERE ARE THE LETTERS?
This is because the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) is not sending out courtesy letters for the collection of the fines, as required in terms of the law.
The JMPD has been sending out 400 000 fines a month since December 2012 worth an estimated R2.1m, but has recovered only 4 percent of this.
In terms of the Aarto legislation, the RTIA should be sending out courtesy letters within 32 days of the JMPD fines being sent and not paid. Thirty-two days after that, it should issue an enforcement order. Once that is issued, the motorist cannot renew his or her car or driving licence, register a new vehicle or do any transactions on the eNatis system.
If, however, the courtesy letters, as a first step, are not sent, the fines are deemed defective as the correct procedure was not followed and will die a natural death.
The RTIA, however, earlier this month issued a statement saying motorists would not be allowed to renew their driving or vehicle licences if they had enforcement orders against them.
This is technically correct, but it only applies to Aarto 01 fines, which are handwritten, and for which courtesy letters and enforcement orders have been sent.
The RTIA sent out only 181 956 of these last year. It did not send a single one for Aarto 03 – the postal speeding fines.
The procedure for postal speeding fines is:
- A motorist first gets a fine posted to him by the JMPD.
- Within 32 days, he or she should get a courtesy letter from the RTIA.
- If he or she ignored that, he or she only then gets an enforcement order and would not be able to renew his or her car or driving licence.
When the documents were not sent to infringers to collect, the eNatis system’s “internal clock” – the time frames for issuing, printing and posting of infringements – did not stop, so non-delivery affected the infringers’ options to pay the discounted amount or elect to appear in court, said Minnaar.
Infringers could therefore plead that the legal process was not followed, he said.
BLAME THE POST OFFICE TOO
The City of Joburg budgeted for R464.3m a year in income from fines in its 2014/15 budget. In the previous financial year, it fell R250m short of the budget. The JMPD said the problem with the issuing of enforcement orders and courtesy letters had not been resolved, and would worsen over the next few weeks with another postal strike on the cards.
Minnaar said: “The Post Office’s industrial action will have a huge impact on law enforcement at JMPD. In fact, it will cripple it.”
The previous strike action resulted in the non-posting of infringement notices to infringers. As a result, 1 028 000 infringement notices could not be posted.
CULTURE OF NON-PAYMENT
“The payment trend until May last year was standing at 8 percent and the non-compliance at 92 percent. The compliance has since deteriorated to 4 percent and carries a non-compliance of 96 percent. The public is adopting a culture of non-payment of Aarto fines,” he said.
The JMPD has been holding “smart” roadblocks and roadside checkpoints where copies of Aarto infringements are served personally on the infringer.
In response to The Star’s questions, RTIA spokesman Gugulethu Blose said the agency had spent R14.2m sending courtesy letters by registered mail and R3.6m on enforcement orders.
“The only instance, according to the Aarto Act, when someone cannot be issued their vehicle licence is when there is an outstanding enforcement order against them,” she said.
Other instances where one will not be issued a vehicle licence according to the National Road Traffic Act are:
- If a roadworthiness certificate is required for one’s vehicle.
- If there are outstanding licence fees in one’s name.
- If police clearance is required on a vehicle.