Motorists caught speeding by traffic officials using a ProLaser 4 speeding camera – which are used countrywide – could avoid any repercussions, after a new court order withdrew prosecution, the City Press reports.
Courts in the Free State have withdrawn all criminal proceedings against motorists caught speeding using that specific measurement device.
According to the City Press, this is because the equipment needs to be assessed, tested and approved by an independent, accredited laboratory – and the state, in its case against an offender who allegedly reached 171km/h, could not prove that this had happened.
There was also no record of the local distributors sealing the device after it had been calibrated, nor any record of the version of the software being used by the device.
Because speeding in the Free State is treated as a criminal offence and could result in jail time, the equipment used to prove the crime had to be beyond question, the judge in the case said.
According to the Rapport, prosecutors have been ordered to withdraw all pending legal cases against offenders until these legal matters have been investigated and resolved.
In January 2019, the Free State banned alternative penalties for speeding in the province, leaving only criminal prosecution as a form of punishment.
Traffic fine problems
Several metros in South Africa have run into problems enforcing the country’s traffic laws over the years.
Earlier in 2019, the Ethekwini Metro Police struggled to issue fines against offenders as it hit an impasse with the National Prosecuting Authority over the financial model used to collect fines in the area.
This again related to the cameras being used, but not on the technical side – the NPA flagged the electronic enforcement contract between the city and the company providing the cameras. Fines issued using the cameras could not be pursued until the matter had been resolved.
Fines have also been scrapped due to technicalities written into the traffic laws – such as the method in which fines have to be delivered to violators, as well as having them delivered in the legal notice period.
In February 2017, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that all fines issued since 2008 that did not comply with the conditions outlined in the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act must be cancelled.
According to Howard Dembovsky, chairperson of Justice Project South Africa (JPSA), conservative estimates show that as many as 50 million fines may have been cancelled due to legal problems.