South Africa’s driving demerit system has been delayed – here are the new plans and start dates

 ·1 Jul 2021

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has confirmed that the country’s controversial driving demerit system will not come into effect from 1 July as originally planned.

In a media briefing on Thursday (1 July), Mbalula said that the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act will instead be introduced in a phased approach to better prepare the public.

The Aarto will penalise drivers and fleet operators who are guilty of traffic offences or infringements by imposing demerit points that could lead to the suspension or cancellation of licences, professional driving permits or operator cards.

It will also encourage the payment of fines and reduce the burden on South African courts, by removing the initial option to elect to appear in court.

The new plan for the rollout is:

Phase Dates Description
Phase 1 1 July 2021 –
30 September 2021
  • Establishment of 7 Aarto Service Outlets.
  • The start of the processing of Aarto elective options in Issuing Authorities & Aarto Service Outlets.
  • Deepen nationwide Aarto awareness.
Phase 2 1 October 2021 –
31 December 2021
  • Implementation of Aarto in 67 Local & Metros.
  • 18 Aarto Service Outlets will also be established.
  • Aarto adjudication process shall also commence.
  • The Appeals Tribunal will become functional.
Phase 3 1 January 2022 –
30 June 2022
  • Introduction of Aarto in the remaining proclaimed 144 Local Municipal Areas
Phase 4 1 July 2022
  • Introduction of the Points Demerit System on 01 July 2022.
  • Phasing in of the Rehabilitation program.
  • 20 self-service kiosks will also be established.

Civil society and motoring groups are not happy about the lack of clarity around the system and say that the new rules will almost certainly fail.

Outa said that the rollout has not been properly planned, there is a pending legal challenge against the system due in court in October, and the agency charged with implementation has refused to provide any information on readiness.

The group noted that the system also does not have an official start date – despite statements made by the government.

“The legislation which sets up the driver’s licence demerit system has not yet had an official start date gazetted. This means if it is expected to start on 1 July 2021 as Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula has previously claimed, it will be a last-minute authorisation,” it said.

“Last-minute is not the way to start such a complicated and bureaucratic process, particularly as this relies heavily on failed systems like municipalities.”

The group added that the planned demerit system was set up in the Aarto, but that section of the Act was never rolled out, with no clarity as to when this will be introduced.

Read: A quick guide to South Africa’s new road rules and demerit points

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