Watch out for SMSes and emails looking to rake in money from “stagnant” fines

A private company called Syntell has embarked on SMS and email campaigns which purport to originate from the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), seeking to rake in money from “stagnated” traffic fines issued by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD).

This is according to the JPSA’s Howard Dembovksy, who says that the company contracts its services to several traffic authorities around South Africa.

In the latest email campaign sent from “[email protected]”, recipients’ names, full national identity numbers and vehicle details, as well as a list of some of their outstanding AARTO infringement notices are displayed for all to see, said Dembovsky.

“In numerous instances, the fines listed therein date back some five years, to 2012, when the JMPD ceased unlawfully violating Section 30(1) of the AARTO Act by posting bogus ‘AARTO infringement notices’ it had captured on its own systems since April 2010 by ‘ordinary domestic mail’,” he said.

Dembovsky cited a High Court judgement in which a similar issue was already dealt with, in which the court found that infringement notices which have not followed the prescribed processes as being “stagnated” and incapable of proceeding any further.

Despite the positive judgement however, Dembovsky warned that it only applied to those notices in that specific case.

“As is the usual behaviour of the RTIA, it appears to be waiting for alleged infringers to make written representations to it to have these stagnated fines withdrawn/cancelled, in the apparent hope that less informed motorists will pay these stagnated fines,” he said.

“It adopted exactly the same tactic in the previous matter where the JMPD acted unlawfully – until the JMPD and the RTIA found themselves being threatened with litigation if they did not administratively cancel all of the outstanding unlawful fines the JMPD had issued.

“Furthermore, the RTIA now appears to again be favouring the JMPD by allowing the RTIA’s logo and motto to be emblazoned on emails sent by Syntell, referencing infringement notices issued by the JMPD only, while three other issuing authorities also issue AARTO infringement notices and have a stake in the collection of fines.”

Should you be worried?

According to Dembovsky, all of the notices seen by the JPSA have stagnated, therefore the threat which repeatedly appears in these emails stating that ‘you will not be able to renew your vehicle or driving license whilst an Enforcement Order is outstanding’, while not patently untrue, is an empty threat since no enforcement order may be lawfully issued on an arbitrary basis.

“Sadly however, there appears to be no limit to the lengths to which dishonest authorities and service providers are prepared to go in order to drive their revenues up,” said Dembovsky.

“This will not change until such time as traffic law enforcement starts to focus on road safety and stops focussing on how much money all concerned can make from pretending to enforce the law.”

Read: We won’t scrap e-tolls – Sanral

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Watch out for SMSes and emails looking to rake in money from “stagnant” fines