The recent spate of outrageously high fine amounts (100 times the original penalty amount) on AARTO 09 results of representations originating from the JMPD when they summarily reject AARTO 08 representations has caused widespread panic and disbelief in the hearts of affected parties.
The explanation that has been offered by the JMPD through the RTIA’s deputy registrar, Mr Sherman Amos on the Midday Report on Talk Radio 702 was that that this was caused by a “software upgrade” which has now caused the JMPD’s finances to be represented in cents. This explanation differs from the one given to the Times Newspaper which said that it was caused by the dropping of a decimal point.
The example below is from an AARTO 09 received by someone in January 2012 and as can be clearly seen, there is no decimal or cents value on it.
The question that must be asked is what possible reason could the JMPD or their contractors have had to change their accounting records and the references in these documents to cents, with a Rand symbol in front? It is far more likely that this “error” was deliberate on the part of the JMPD and/or their contractors in order to scare people into going into their offices to query these things, rather than elect to be tried in court because the JMPD is now starting to haemorrhage money due to people wising up to the unlawfulness of the JMPD’s actions. The RTIA should also not be making excuses for the JMPD if they are not prepared to compel them to obey the law and are going to allow them to appoint unqualified representation officers.
Additionally, a simple comment to the Beeld Newspaper stating that “motorists should not panic if they found themselves confronted with fines of, for example, R50,000 or R300,000” and a radio interview here and there is not good enough. Of course people will panic! It has taken almost two years for people to begin to wise up to the fact that sending AARTO 03 infringement notices by ordinary mail is contrary to the Act and a simple, small press article in one newspaper is simply not going to cut it. The JMPD and RTIA should be forced to at the very least run full page adverts in all newspapers apologising to and reassuring motorists that this was an “error” if that is what it was.
The amount of affected parties – reportedly 50,000 in one batch is also cause for concern, given the fact that this would appear to represent a single month’s worth of representations rejected by the JMPD. JPSA has also been told that people who are trying to hand in AARTO 10 election to be tried in court documents are being refused and told that they must pay “as these fines are not going to go away”. If this is true, then the JMPD is violating people’s right under the Constitution to be tried in a competent court.
The JMPD is very good at making up excuses and pretending that they are blameless and a legitimate entity. They seem to be under the impression that they can make up provisions as and when they wish to do so, and can discard the provisions of the AARTO Act to suit themselves. From 1 June 2010 the JMPD began sending out infringement notices that they previously sent by registered mail in accordance with the Act by ordinary mail, thus negating the entire AARTO process.
The JMPD’s explanation for this has been that the AARTO Act does not specifically prohibit sending infringement notices by ordinary mail, however what they have neglected to note is that the Act says that they must be served by registered mail. A complaint was lodged with the Public Protector by JPSA on 17 June 2011, after all other avenues to get the JMPD to act lawfully failed. This has still not resulted in the resolution of this anomaly.
In December 2011, the JMPD suddenly contracted a large number of individuals to summarily reject representations and advise people to either pay the fines or elect to be tried in court. We have been informed that elections to be tried in court are not being accepted by the JMPD and they are informing people that they have to pay the fines as a court will not listen to them. This is a violation of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and the right of every accused person to:
- Be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court, and
- Be subjected to administrative justice which is “administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair” which is most certainly not the case with respect to how the JMPD is acting as police, judge, jury and executioner.
The JMPD is clearly under the impression that they:
- May presume that people they accuse are guilty until they prove themselves innocent, and
- The JMPD is not obliged to comply with the prescripts of legislation passed into law in South Africa.
JPSA advises all motorists who make representations and have them rejected to immediately exercise their rights under the constitution and elect to be tried in a competent court, which don’t employ administration clerks who know nothing of the law to do their dirty work for them. If the JMPD attempts to refuse you this right, then insist that they accept your election and do not take no for an answer.
Howard Dembovsky may be contacted for further comment.
National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)
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