The Johannesburg metro police department acted improperly when it sent fines by ordinary post instead of registered mail, the public protector said in a report released on Thursday.
The fines, sent by metro police for the period August 2010 until December 21, 2012, did not comply with the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act, Thuli Madonsela said in her report.
“The acts of the JMPD accordingly constitute improper conduct and maladministration.”
No remedial action could be recommended because metro police had since complied with the act and sent fines by registered mail.
Metro police began sending fines by ordinary mail following the withdrawal of the service by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).
Madonsela’s report, “A Matter of Interpretation”, followed a complaint lodged in July 2010 and in June 2011 by a Mrs A Slabbert and Justice Project SA chairman Howard Dembovsky.
Dembovsky argued the fines were unlawful and unenforceable since they were not served by registered post.
Dembovsky and Slabbert alleged metro police misinterpreted the provisions of Aarto, which would have resulted in motorists being disqualified from driving within a year of the act’s introduction.
Dembovsky further alleged that a commitment by metro police and the RTMC to refund people issued with unlawful fines, and who had paid them, was not honoured.
Madonsela said that in terms of section 17 of the Aarto Act the obligation to serve notices rested with the issuing authority, in this case the metro police.
Madonsela said there was no evidence to support the claim that metro police had undertaken to refund those who paid the fines they received through ordinary post.
The public protector recommended that the metro police’s chief, in consultation with the city manager, issue a formal apology to be printed in all newspapers in circulation in Johannesburg.
She recommended the RTMC take steps to ensure the insertion of a phrase into the act which makes it an offence for issuing authorities to violate the act.
More on the public protector