The South African Department of Transport says comment on proposed amendments to Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) regulations have been extended by 30 days.

The draft amendment regulations were opened for public comment on 7th December 2015 and proposed a number of changes to AARTO regulations that appeared to have been tabled to incorporate the prosecution of etoll violations.

Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) has already submitted a rather lengthy response to the proposed amendments which it has also made available online.

For anybody that uses a car in South Africa this comment period is crucial to make your voice heard. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done given that there is a lot of language that references past acts and forms that you’ve probably never heard of.

We’re going to touch on three aspects we think are worth commenting on, but we urge you to skim through the notice submitted by the JPSA to see if anything else affects you directly.

Notice of infringement times

According to JPSA, proposed amendments would mean that motorists could wait up to 90 days to be served notice of an infringement. An example used by JPSA cites Main Road in Kyalami, Johannesburg, where the speed limit has changed from 80km/h to 60km/h back to 80km/h.

This change in speed limit has seen motorists receive numerous fines for failing to notice the reduced speed limit.

Imagine how many fines you could accrue in 80 days. Image - CC BY/2.0 Steve Snodgrass
Imagine how many fines you could accrue in 80 days. Image – CC BY/2.0 Steve Snodgrass

Should this happen when the amendments are put into place and a motorist travels that route for 80 days not noticing the speed limit change, they could build up R14 500 in fines, 58 demerit points and an 11.5 year driving ban.

This would all happen before the motorist even knows they’ve done anything wrong. The same goes for etoll infringements which could see a motorist receiving a R25 000 bill for passing 100 gantries in an 80 day period.

We should also point out that currently only one photograph of the infringement is included along with instructions to visit aarto.gov.za to find more information.

These photos should be included in the infringement notice as not all South African’s have access to the internet nor is internet access required to have a license.

The AARTO 03e form

The biggest problem with this form is how it appears to void other provisions within the AARTO act.

The title of the form is “Infringement Notice Multiple Camera or Electronically Captured Infringements”, take careful note of the “multiple” and the plurals in that name.

However, the AARTO Act itself has clauses which reference only singular infringements. An excerpt from Section 17 (1)(b) of the AARTO Act reads;

If a person is alleged to have committed an infringement, an authorised officer or a person duly authorised by an issuing authority, must instead of a notice contemplated in section 56 or 341 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977), and subject to section 23, serve or cause to be served on that person an infringement notice , which must state the prescribed particulars of the infringement

What is unclear here is whether this section of the act would still be enforceable given that we would no longer be dealing with an infringement but rather multiple infringements.

JPSA alleges that this makes the form unlawful and exists only to save authorities time and SANRAL money.

Fleet problems

The form we mentioned earlier presents a problem to owners of a fleet as well as car hire companies. An excerpt from the AARTO Act Section 17 (1)(f)(v) reads;

“If a person is alleged to have committed an infringement, an authorised officer or a person duly authorised by an issuing authority, must instead of a notice contemplated in section 56 or 341 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977), and subject to section 23, serve or cause to be served on that person an infringement notice, which must inform the infringer that, not later than 32 days after the date of service of the infringement notice, the infringer may provide information, in the prescribed manner, to the satisfaction of the issuing authority that he or she was not the driver of the motor vehicle at the time of the alleged infringement, coupled with the name, acceptable identification and residential and postal address of the alleged driver or person in control of the vehicle”

Once again, the act references one infringement. Whether fleet owners and car hire companies would be able to point out that there were multiple drivers is unclear.

You can make your own comments and send them along to the Department of Transport before the 10th March.

Mark your comments for the attention of both Mr. Sello Mokubyane and Adv. N. Thoka at:

Department of Transport
Private Bag X193
Pretoria
0001

You can also email your comments for the attention of the aforementioned gentlemen to aarto [at] gov [dot] za.

[Source – Green Gazette] [Image – CC BY/2.0 Mats Lindh ]