AA calls for Aarto implementation to be halted
The Road Traffic Infringement Agency's (RTIA) announcement at the end of October that the employment contract of its former CEO Japh Chuwe has been terminated raises serious questions about the future of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act that require urgent attention.
The Automobile Association (AA) says attempts to roll out Aarto must be halted and the act repealed.
The association wrote to parliament's portfolio committee on transport last week seeking to halt the rollout, the dissolution of the RTIA via a repeal of the act, and clarification as to why Chuwe’s contract was terminated.
On October 29, the agency announced that its board of directors had terminated Chuwe's contract after “findings from a disciplinary process conducted as a result of investigations conducted by an independent firm of forensic investigators”.
The board noted that these investigations emanated “from the 2019/2020 audit findings of the auditor-general and whistle-blower reports on allegations of serious maladministration by the registrar/CEO (Mr Chuwe) and other senior officials”.
The AA says Chuwe had been employed by the RTIA for nearly 15 years, initially as a senior manager, and then as registrar/CEO from 2010 until his dismissal. It says Chuwe was either close to those accountable or was himself directly accountable for a number of events, including:
- the run-up to and rollout of the Aarto pilot project launched in 2008, which was intended to last about 18 months;
- the failure of the pilot project and the inexplicable delays in its feedback and review process;
- abuses of process and disregard for the Aarto Act which led to a judicial finding against the RTIA in the Fines4U case heard in the North Gauteng High Court;
- changes to Aarto which removed key protections of administrative fairness at the core of act and introduced further complications; and
- the contradictory and revenue-orientated revisions of the Aarto regulations, including the introduction of the infringement penalty levy and the changes to schedule 3, which were both disproportionate and unfair, notably for those driving for a living.
“The failure of the RTIA to implement a just, equitable and effective traffic enforcement system therefore rests primarily with Mr Chuwe. Under his tenure, the organisation was dysfunctional, unable to implement and administer Aarto,” the AA says in its letter to the parliamentary committee.
Because of this failure, the AA says the minister of transport should repeal the act, thereby dissolving the RTIA, and place traffic enforcement under the auspices of the Criminal Procedure Act for the time being.
“In addition, the reasons for which Chuwe was dismissed must be released in full, including all material dates and events, the rand value of any financial loss to the RTIA and, should any losses have occurred, the steps government is taking to recover these losses. The processes in relation to the 'other senior managers' mentioned in the RTIA’s [press] release should also be disclosed,” the AA says.
The association has previously raised concern about the implementation of the act, saying that while it supports the introduction of a points demerit system as envisaged, the current regulations are geared more to revenue collection and do not promote road safety.
“The time has come for parliament to place road safety above profit, and a significant step in that direction will be to ensure a halt to the implementation of the current Aarto Act, and to ventilate, in public, all the reasons why Mr Chuwe’s contract was terminated. South Africans have a right to understand the circumstances under which a CEO of an important institution such as the RTIA has been dismissed.”
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