Justice Project says blocking licences over fines is illegal
It was not true that motorists who did not pay their overdue Aarto traffic fines would struggle to renew their licences, the Justice Project SA (JPSA) said on Saturday.
"In the absence of an enforcement order, or in the case of the Criminal Procedure Act, a warrant of arrest, licensing transactions may not be withheld and if and licensing authority does do so, it would be violating both the Aarto Act and the National Road Traffic Act," the JPSA said in a statement.
It was responding to an earlier report in Beeld where Gerrie Gerneke, director at Johannesburg metro police department (JMPD), warned that if fines were not paid in a certain time a motorist's profile would be blocked on the eNaTIS system.
The report came after remarks that traffic fines sent in the post could be ignored because it contradicted the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act.
JPSA said that in terms of section 20 of the Aarto Act licensing transactions may indeed be blocked on the eNaTIS system if and when an enforcement order was issued by the registrar of the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA).
This would happen if an alleged infringer ignores both an infringement notice and a courtesy letter which have both been lawfully served by registered mail in terms of the Act.
"However, infringement notices issued by the JMPD and sent by ordinary mail since June 2010 have never proceeded to the later stages of the Aarto process simply because they have not been served in compliance with the Act."
The JPSA warned that infringement notices served by registered mail were lawful and would lead to the subsequent processes under the Aarto Act if ignored.
"JPSA awaits the findings of the Public Protector’s office to put an end to this childish debate however the minister of transport has already acknowledged in Parliament that the JMPD is acting unlawfully in terms of the Aarto Act.
"The pig-headedness of director Gerneke and his cohorts at the JMPD is unbelievable and it is a shame that this debate should even have arisen, given that law enforcement agencies are supposed to enforce the law, not break it to suit their own pockets."
Gerneke was quoted by the Beeld as saying: "You will not be able to renew your car registration, no new vehicles can be registered, you will not be able to renew your licence or apply for a licence in a different class".
According to the report the JMPD were sending traffic violation notices by registered post.
"Less serious offences with fines of R250, R500 and R750 are still sent by normal mail in Johannesburg," Gerneke told the newspaper.
This was because the JMPD did not have enough money to send each fine by registered post.
"There is still a dispute before the Johannesburg mayoral committee over who must pay the costs of sending fines by registered mail."
In terms of Aarto the Road Traffic Management Corporation were responsible but there had been a dispute over this for years.
Gerneke said motorists who had not received their fines in time by post could get an Aarto eight form where they could state the reason why the fine was not paid. An example of this was that it arrived late in the post.