Joburg reintroducing ‘smart roadblocks’ – what you need to know

The City of Johannesburg is reintroducing ‘smart roadblocks’ as a way of enforcing compliance and collecting revenue, says executive mayor Mpho Phalatse.

Presenting her state of the city address on Thursday (21 April), Phalatse said the smart system has already seen the city collect in excess of R14 million in nine weeks.

The smart roadblocks rely on automatic number-plate-recognition to identify motorists who have outstanding fines, those driving ‘cloned’ vehicles, and those with stagnant fines or fines with incorrect addresses.

According to Syntell, who designed the system, the smart roadblocks are capable of collecting between R20,000 and R50,000 of outstanding fines each day.

All the paperwork is done on-site at the roadblock, including the issuing of the warrants of arrest, while a clerk of the court is present to issue summons. Motorists are able to settle their fines there and then using credit cards, debit cards or cash. If no method of payment is available, the motorist will be arrested.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has indicated that motorists can also expect more roadblocks across the country’s roads as part of a push to reduce traffic fatalities.

He added that driving operations will be scaled up starting on Thursdays and continued throughout the weekend as these are the periods where most accidents are reported.

Roadblock rules 

In most circumstances, the police should have a warrant issued before searching your car or home, say legal experts at DSC Attorneys.

However, under certain circumstances the Criminal Procedure Act, the Police Act and the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act empower the police to search your car or home without first obtaining a warrant, it said.

The firm said that police can search your home or car without your permission and without first getting a warrant if an officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that you:

  • Have committed a crime; or
  • Are in possession of material used, or to be used, in a crime.

A police officer can’t simply search your home or car on a whim. He or she must have evidence to back up reasonable suspicion.

However, the Police Act allows officers to set up roadblocks with the permission of the National or Provincial Police Commissioner. The Act allows a police officer to search any car stopped at a roadblock.

An officer can seize any item that’s reasonably believed to have been used in a crime or can be used as evidence in proving the commissioning of a crime.

“Clearly, this is open to abuse. A police officer at a roadblock can search your car when he or she has no reason to believe you have committed, or are planning to commit, a crime,” the firm said.


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Joburg reintroducing ‘smart roadblocks’ – what you need to know