With a number of problems currently surrounding the proposed Administrative Adjunction of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act and its amendments, public hearings on the Act have now raised several new issues with the incoming traffic laws.
The latest of these public hearings was heard in Mamelodi in Tshwane at the end of March, where it emerged that ignoring e-toll gantries is likely to constitute a demerit on your licence – and could ultimately lead to its suspension.
Speaking to The Star on Wednesday (4 April), Outa portfolio manager for transport Rudie Heyneke said that under the incoming Amendment, ignoring the gantries would be the same as ignoring other road traffic signs.
This was clarified in an answer given at the hearings by the Road Traffic Infringement Agency’s (RTIA) chief operations officer, Thato Tsholetsane.
It was further confirmed to the newspaper by RTIA spokesperson Monde Mkalipi, who said that e-toll violations were under discussion for the new Aarto regulations, but that they had not yet been finalised.
Public hearings on the Aarto Act are still set to go ahead in three more provinces, with both government and civil society groups urging South Africans to get involved in the process.
In a statement released at the end of February, the Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) cautioned that ‘a remarkably high number of people’ appear to view the Act and its amendments as an effort by government to introduce a points-demerit system, and little more.
While the Aarto Act does bring a points-demerit system with it, there is a lot more to it than that, and in fact, the points-demerit system represents but a small part of the Aarto Act’s mechanisms and real purpose,” it said.
“Indeed, had there been any desire to do so, introducing a points-demerit system in South Africa could have easily been achieved decades ago – by simply making a few minor amendments to road traffic legislation.
“The real purpose of the Aarto Act is to migrate the prosecution of road traffic offences – for which an admission of guilt fine may be payed – from the Criminal Procedure Act and the judicial authority of the courts, to an administrative, process driven scheme, orchestrated by a far-from-independent State Owned Enterprise which is funded almost entirely by traffic fines and the fees raised on them,” the JPSA said.
Some of the other considerations under the new amendments that the JPSA outlined include:
- Fines may now be delivered electronically, and the onus falls on the driver to pay the fines once it has been delivered to their inboxes.
- Alleged infringers will no longer be allowed to elect to be tried in court, but must instead make a written representation to the RTIA. If unsuccessful, the alleged infringer may appeal to the Tribunal, if advised by a representations officer to do so, but only if the appeal is lodged within 30 days and is accompanied by the payment of an up-front fee. If the Tribunal rejects the appeal, the alleged infringer must approach the High Court.
- Motorists can now be “habitual infringers” – defined as a person whose driving licence has already been suspended twice. At that stage only, will such a person become eligible for a “rehabilitation programme” – which is yet to be defined or explained – to avoid having his or her driving licence cancelled.