9 million fines 'are not valid'

17 September 2013 - 08:12 By KATLEGO MOENG
Roadblock. File photo.
Roadblock. File photo.

The Johannesburg Metro Police Department has been acting as judge, jury and executioner while other traffic law enforcers sit back and watch.

But, according to a litigant, this could prove costly for the cops because motorists might not be obliged to pay traffic fines issued by the metro police between March 2010 and December last year.

The metro police issued at least 9 million fines, averaging R500 each, during that period.

Fines4U, an organisation that acts as a proxy for company car pools, has taken the City of Johannesburg to court.

It also accuses the Road Traffic Infringement Agency and the Road Traffic Management Corporation of standing idle while the metro police department flouted Aarto regulations that might render fines totalling more than R1-billion invalid.

Neither the agency nor the corporation is opposing the high court challenge.

At the heart of the matter is that the metro police department wants to collect its fines. It has appointed "representations officers" to decide on the validity of fines that have been challenged.

Cornelia van Niekerk, owner of Fines4U, argues that the Aarto Act clearly states that the Road Traffic Infringement Agency, not the police, should collect fines. She has challenged the use of representations officers employed by the city.

"Those representations officers should be independent. They should be from the traffic infringement agency's offices."

Fines4U has asked the court to scrap all decisions taken by the representations officers.

Van Niekerk said the Johannesburg Metro Police Department had used "trickery" to derail the court action, "illegally" cancelling five fines she attached as examples, in an attempt to render her application uncertain.

She amended the motion to include an estimated 9million fines issued between March 2010 and December last year.

She says most fines issued this year should be invalidated because the infringement agency had failed to send out the required courtesy letters and enforcement orders.

Johannesburg Metro Police Department spokesman Wayne Minnaar said the department had been 100% Aarto-compliant this year. He redirected questions to the Road Traffic Infringement Agency, but The Times was told that its staff were not available.