Justice Project SA responds to comments by Director Gerrie Gerneke of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police

JOHANNESBURG – It has come to our attention that Director Gerrie Gerneke of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department has made a number of unsubstantiated statements which are materially and factually incorrect. In short, he is being economical with the truth is his statements to the media. He has furthermore levelled wild allegations at this organisation and at me in my personal capacity stating that we/I have “ulterior motives”.

JPSA is an organization that represents the rights of individuals and groups. Another of our mandates is to educate the public and make them aware of their fundamental rights and responsibilities as enshrined in our constitution and other pieces of legislation and regulations. Because we do what we are mandated to do, Director Gerneke concludes our actions have ulterior motives.

Whatever conclusions Mr Gerneke wishes to reach, we will continue to fearlessly represent our constituency, educate them and make them aware of the illegal activities of any law enforcement agency including the JMPD, should they choose to engage in such activities and we will not succumb to blatant attempts to discredit or intimidate us.

We point out that the AARTO Act and Regulations are very clear with respect to how infringement notices under the Act must and shall be served. The legislature was very clear in what its intention was with regard to how notices must be served on alleged infringers and did not suggest that anyone should be allowed to subject the legislation to their own interpretation.

Section 30(1) of the AARTO Amendment Act (Act 22 of 1999) clearly states the following:

“Any document required to be served on an infringer in terms of this Act, must be served on the infringer personally or sent by registered mail to his or her last known address.”

Furthermore, Regulation 3(1) (b) of the AARTO Regulations explicitly states that an AARTO 03 infringement notice must be served by registered mail in that it states:

“An infringement notice contemplated in section 17(1) of the Act shall be issued and served or caused to be served to the infringer by registered mail, on a form similar to form AARTO 03 as shown in Schedule 1, within 40 days of the commission of the infringement.”

There is nothing in the Act or Regulations that permits Director Gerneke or the JMPD to interpret the said Act or Regulations in any manner that suits them. Equally there is no provision in the Act or regulations that exempts Director Gerneke from implementing any of the provisions in terms of the legislature’s intention.

Director Gerneke’s assumptions that he can violate the Act and regulations with impunity are too horrible to contemplate; because if he is allowed to do so then he is both the legislature and the implementing agency. He is also reminded that the JMPD is not a “local authority” in terms of the AARTO Act; it is an issuing authority.

The purpose of our press briefing held on Tuesday 20 December 2011 and the media release that accompanied it regarding this issue was to highlight the fact that the JMPD has continuously been sending out infringement notices by ordinary as opposed to registered mail as is required by the Act. This is an issue that we revealed over 18 months ago and we will continue to remind the law abiding public of their rights whether the JMPD likes it or not.

Its purpose was furthermore to reveal the fact that the then Acting and now fully appointed Registrar of the Road Traffic Infringement Agency, Mr Japh Chuwe not only agrees with everything that I and JPSA have been saying about the unlawful service of AARTO infringement notices by the JMPD, but issued an instruction (request) that the JMPD complies with the prescripts of the Act as far back as January 2011 and that the JMPD has ignored this.

Director Gerneke and Chief Ngcobo have disregarded a lawful instruction issued by the very top level of the AARTO structure as well as disregarding legislation and in doing so have acted in a highly unprofessional, insubordinate and illegal manner. The fact that they have continued to do so for 11 months after being requested to cease doing so is an indisputable indictment of their unparalleled arrogance, extortionist tendencies and readiness to violate the law.

Furthermore, despite the fact that the matter is in the hands of the Public Protector, who will be the authority that makes a determination on the matter; Acting CEO of the RTMC, Mr Collins Letsoalo has chosen to come out in defence of the JMPD and offer his own legal determination to the effect that the actions of the JMPD are “irregular” and not “unlawful” ahead of that office’s findings.

I and JPSA have repeatedly and consistently maintained the standpoint that the JMPD is acting unlawfully and we have done so in the interests of the public and the proper application of the law, so Director Gerneke is correct when he says we have been “singing the same tune” for a long time now.

Gerneke states that “notice was therefore given through ordinary mail in the interest of law enforcement”, but fails to acknowledge that law enforcement must be practiced in accordance with the law. Had he and the JMPD have simply stuck to the provisions of the Act they would have acted lawfully.

Mr Gerneke then goes on to say “It is with some regret … that some organisations and individuals have now seized upon this opportunity to confuse and distort the issues for ulterior motives” and I invite him to define his statements clearly.

Director Gerneke is also accusing the South African Post Office of inefficiencies with respect to their Secure Mail service. He must explain the basis of this accusation as well. One has to ask if it is his contention that the SAPO cannot be relied upon to provide a secure mail delivery service, then why is it that it is used by other major institutions, like banks, law firms, etc.?

I invite members of the media to go to the source and contact the following individuals for clarification on the lawfulness of the JMPD’s actions:

Mr Japh Chuwe – Registrar of the RTIA – japhc@rtia.co.za – Cell phone (071) 680 3447
Mr Sherman Amos – Deputy Registrar of the RTIA – shermana@rtia.co.za – Cell phone (082) 647 5819

Howard Dembovsky – 082 418 6210 – email howard@jp-sa.org

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