Justice Project South Africa lays an official complaint with the Public Protector about traffic fines

We would like to share the following media release by the Justice Project South Africa:

“FOLLOWING last week’s media reports with respect to an estimated R1bn in traffic fines losses on the part of the JMPD, JPSA wishes to place the following on record.

  1. A formal complaint of abuse, non-compliance with the law and defeating the ends of justice has been laid against the JMPD, RTMC and RTIA by Justice Project South Africa with the Public Protector on Friday 17 June 2010.The essence of this complaint is that:
    1. The JMPD has wilfully and purposely chosen to violate section 30(1) of the AARTO Amendment Act which requires that all documents under the Act that are not served in person be served via registered mail.
    2. The JMPD have violated this requirement of the Act for more than 12 months now – since 1 June 2010 and to date, continue to violate the Act in that they have been using standard permit mail to deliver AARTO 03 infringement notices. This does not constitute “service” in terms of the AARTO Act.
    3. Despite acknowledging that this means of delivery has been used is in fact unlawful, the unworkable “solution” suggested by the Acting Registrar of the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), Mr Japh Chuwe is grossly flawed and prejudicial in that:
  1. i.      It makes this solution available only to those who have by chance become aware of the fact that it is available, thereby prejudicing all other persons.
  2. ii.      The statement by Mr Chuwe in the Citizen Newspaper of 16 June 2010, as well as on every other occasion where the media has contacted him for comment to the effect that “members of the public may make representation to ‘the Agency’ (meaning the RTIA)” is grossly misleading, in that the RTIA refuses to entertain any representations made by members of the public for infringement notices that are not issued by the RTMC AARTO Unit. All representations with respect to infringement notices starting with 02-4024 are directed straight to the JMPD, who in turn reject them.
  3. i.      It has not only allowed the JMPD to violate the Act and regulations but has furthermore abandoned its responsibility to have the JMPD comply with the Act and has therefore sanctioned their unlawful behaviour.
  4. ii.      It has failed in ensuring that the AARTO Act is applied equitably in the only two jurisdictions which it has been proclaimed in by allowing the JMPD and the TMPD to apply the very same legislation in two completely different manners.
  5. iii.      It has allowed Director Gerneke to overtly level threats at members of the public in the media which constitutes a criminal action of intimidation.
  6. i.      Acting CEO, Collins Letsoalo refused to take any action apart from referring the matter to Japh Chuwe as far back as July 2010 and has completely divorced himself from any action in this matter.
  7. ii.      It is all very well that Collins Letsoalo chooses to blurt out his emotive babble on the New Age blog site, etc. (http://www.thenewage.co.za/blogdetail.aspx?mid=186&blog_id=%20787) wherein he talks of cure being better than prevention – which in itself is unadulterated rubbish, and where he again manages to talk of “some are resisting it [AARTO]” whilst he continually does absolutely nothing to ensure that AARTO is applied correctly.
    1. The RTIA has completely and undeniably failed in fulfilling its mandate to ensure that the AARTO Act is rolled out fairly and equitably in that:
    1. The RTMC has washed its hands of the matter and has allowed the JMPD and RTIA to make a mockery of the AARTO Act, thereby furthering the impression that the AARTO Act is not viable for rollout to the rest of South Africa in that:
    1. The RTMC and RTIA have both not only allowed the JMPD to profit from their unlawful behaviour for more than 12 months now but have actively facilitated this unlawful action by doing nothing to halt it.

These complaints are of a very serious nature as they involve extreme prejudice to the public, abuse of power, abandonment of statutory responsibility and outright criminality on the part of the authorities involved.

You will note that the issue of the JMPD tripling penalty amounts to juristic persons and those who hold foreign driving licences was not contained in this complaint. This was by design due to the facts that:

  1. All such infringement notices were unlawfully served in the first place and are therefore invalid at the outset.
  2. Whilst there is provision in the AARTO regulations for tripling fine values to juristic persons the JMPD are doing so whilst the TMPD are not.
  3. There is no provision in the AARTO Act or regulations for tripling fine values to foreign driving licence holders and this is therefore a criminal matter of fraud, not one of merely misapplying or misinterpreting the Act and regulations.
  4. These matters will be addressed as separate, standalone complaints in due course.

We have noted the complaint by the CEO of government garage, gFleeT to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and hope that this will meet with some form of action however, we wish to point out that the NPA will probably absolve themselves of any responsibility in the matter due to the fact that AARTO does not fall under their jurisdiction unless an infringer elects to be tried in court. We are making contact with gFleeT to discuss a possible amalgamation of their matters into ours.

The complaint to the Public Protector was delivered by hand on Friday 17 June 2011 and was discussed in depth with that office. We are in receipt of an acknowledgement of delivery and await further action by the Public Protector.

  1. JPSA would also like to respond to a few matters that arose out of the Star Newspaper report of 15 June 2011, entitled “JMPD in R1bn fine mess” in the print version and “JMPD R1bn loss for invalid fines” in the online version.

a)      Firstly, the JMPD is not in for a loss of any kind in that the estimated R1bn that it will have to refund was not their money in the first place. This cannot therefore be classified as a loss on their part.

b)      This monies received is the estimated amount that has been paid to the JMPD by members of the public who are unaware of the fact that these infringement notices are unlawful and therefore invalid and has been calculated on the basis of unlawfully dispatched infringement notices that have been paid. The full extent of these infringement notices that have been issued is likely to be over R2.4bn.

c)      Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar’s statements to the Star Newspaper where nonsensical and show his complete ignorance of traffic law and the AARTO Act in that:

  1. i. “the department had sent infringement notices via surface mail because offenders receiving registered mail had not been aware they were getting traffic fines”
  • Nonsense! The registered notifications sent by the South African Post office to collect an infringement notice say “AARTO INFRINGEMENT NOTICE DELIVERY NOTIFICATION” in block letters across the top of them and then go on to say: “An Aarto infringement notice is ready for collection at the XXX Post Office.”
  1. ii.            He then went on to say “We are acting in good faith to the offender as we want to give them a 32-day grace for a 50 percent discount.”
  • This is absolute nonsense, given that alleged infringers have been receiving the infringement notices well after the 32 day discount period has elapsed and no start date appears on the infringement notice.
  1. iii.            Asked how the JMPD was able to determine if an offender had received a notice and was within the 32-day grace period for a discount, Minnaar said: “how do people in general know they owe money to furniture shops, etc?”
  • This will go down in history as one of the most idiotic statements that anyone could make. Perhaps the fact that a person went into a furniture shop, picked out goods, paid a deposit, signed an instalment agreement, took delivery of the goods and then made regular payments on the instalment sale agreement would have at least given them a clue that they “owed money to a furniture shop.”
  • The fact is that the JMPD is not able to determine if an alleged infringer has received an unlawfully despatched infringement notice or not.
  • Perhaps Mr Minnaar should realise that the JMPD is supposed to be a law enforcement authority – not a retail operation, like he and his colleagues seem to believe it is!

If the JMPD, RTMC and RTIA do not begin to take their mandates seriously and learn to comply with the laws that they expect others to comply with, then there can be no doubt that AARTO will fail and people will continue to be slaughtered on our roads.

It is also highly probable that the JMPD’s actions are specifically designed to discredit AARTO and ensure that it is not rolled out nationwide.

These agencies will, as they do now, continue to rake in billions of Rands covered in the blood of victims of road carnage because they feel that it is their right to profit from lawlessness. All of the emotive outbursts in the world on the part of Collins Letsoalo, the Minister of Transport and others will not change this gruesome fact.”

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