Cape Town - Nearly 10,000 cellphones have been confiscated from drivers by City of Cape Town officials, said Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith on Tuesday.
“The numbers are staggering and an indication that many motorists still refuse to acknowledge the dangers of using cellular phones while driving,” said Smith.
Since the implementation of the impoundment policy came into effect in July 2012, an average of 3 155 cellphones have been confiscated annually from Cape Town drivers, totalling 9 465 by June 2015. The policy, a city traffic by-law, is in line with the National Road Traffic Act.
Smith said because of the risks related to driving while using a mobile device, he felt no sympathy for drivers whose phones were confiscated.
“Driving (whilst on the phone) is more dangerous than drunk driving and has become the leading cause of road death in many countries,” he said, “I therefore do not have an ounce of sympathy for motorists who have had the misfortune of being caught in the act by our officers”.
With only 4,182 motorists having reclaimed their phones, more than 2 500 phones are still impounded in Ndabeni and several thousand others in various traffic offices across the Cape.
Motorists had to pay a R500 fine to be able to retrieve their devices from lock-up.
Smith explained that if phones were not collected within three months of confiscation, the City had the right to auction them off. However, this has not yet happened.
“We are navigating our way through unchartered territory in respect of the mobile devices, particularly relating to the issue of personal data that remains on the phone even with the removal of the SIM card,” he explained.
“We are awaiting the appointment of a service provider to assist with the removal of data from the handsets.”
Once the appointment was made, the City would begin the auctions.