Durban: Five years have passed and traffic cameras in the eThekwini Municipality remain non-operational.
This means that motorists who speed and those who drive through red traffic lights are not being fined. The traffic cameras are not working owing to a legal battle between the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the service provider.
The NPA is the only body that can grant permission to the service provider to position its traffic-monitoring equipment. It is alleged that the NPA had suspended the service provider’s contract due to alleged irregularities in the contract.
So far the municipality has lost more than R600 million in revenue.
Political parties have accused the municipality and the NPA of not taking the matter seriously and putting people’s lives at risk.
Chris van den Berg, who sits on the DA’s financial security and emergency services committee, said the matter was still in court and going into its fifth year.
“Every time we request feedback from the municipality on when the traffic cameras will start operating again, we are told the matter is in court. We don't receive any further information from the municipality.”
He said initially the plan was that metro police officers would use hand-held cameras from RTI while the matter was in court.
“This plan has somewhat fallen on the wayside. There are currently no speed timing and cameras at our traffic lights. Motorists are aware of the situation and it has created bad driving habits and a cause for accidents.
“The municipality and NPA should push for the matter to be resolved because apart from more than R600m in revenue they are putting people’s lives at risk.”
He said the DA would continue to raise the issue at their committee meetings because they wanted answers.
“The municipality is sleeping on this matter and we cannot go another five years without proper law enforcement on our roads.”
Mdu Nkosi, the speaker for the IFP, said: “How are we supposed to have a safe city when we have no systems to ensure that accidents don’t happen? The municipality used taxpayers’ money to install those traffic cameras and for it to be non-operational for such a long time is wasteful expenditure.”
Nkosi said there was a lack of willingness from officials in the municipality to ensure everything was working.
Vusi Khoza, the spokesperson for the EFF, said the municipality should devise a plan to ensure the speed of motorists is being monitored.
“The excuse is that the matter is in court. This excuse shows you the incompetence and inefficiency of the municipality.
“Speeding fines generate income for the city and the city is now losing out. We are of the view that the municipality has no clue about what they are doing and we are flabbergasted as to why the court proceedings are not resolved so many years on.”
Advocate Elaine Zungu, the director of public prosecutions in KZN, said the court matter was sub judice and she would therefore not deal with the details of the case.However, Zungu said camera law enforcement was based on manual speed timing and fixed camera law enforcement.
"In order to conduct fixed camera law enforcement, the authority of the director of public prosecutions must be obtained. The said authority is only granted once certain requirements are complied with. Currently, no fixed camera law enforcement is being conducted in the eThekwini jurisdiction due to non-compliance with certain guidelines."
She said there have been negotiations between the NPA and the municipality in an attempt to try and resolve the issue of enforcement.
"The municipality, in the interim, is still at liberty to conduct manual speed timing operations to ensure compliance with speed limits and ensure road safety. My authority is not necessary for manual speed timing operations."
She said they were duty-bound to ensure that there was compliance with certain requirements before the use of fixed camera law enforcement could be authorised.
"I reiterate that manual speed timing operations can be conducted in the interim while the dispute is being dealt with.”
Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad, a metro police spokesperson, declined to comment on the matter because it is being heard in court. He referred POST to the eThekwini Municipality.
Princess Nkabane, a senior communications officer at the municipality, asked that Sewpersad be contacted for comment.
Meanwhile, the City of Joburg is faced with a similar situation, as their speed cameras and hand-held speed devices have been inoperative since May last year.
Xolani Fihla, the spokesperson for the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD), said the service provider’s contract had ended.
“All traffic fines that were incurred before May 31, 2021, have been processed. We are currently waiting for the contract of the new service provider to be finalised. We are hoping it is done by July.”
The AA called for an investigation into the matter in Johannesburg to determine who should be held accountable.
Layton Beard, the spokesperson for the AA, said: “This is gross negligence, and disciplinary steps against the individual or individuals involved should commence urgently.
“We live in a country with one of the highest per capita road deaths in the world. Effective traffic law enforcement along with proper prosecution of offenders remains critical to dealing effectively with this situation.”
He said someone in the JMPD must carry the responsibility to flag these deadlines in advance of their expiry dates with a view to either renewing the contracts or securing new suppliers.
“Instead, that process is only getting under way now, which may result in even further delays in getting cameras operational again. It’s a totally ludicrous situation and the JMPD should hang its collective head in shame.”