Justice Project urges Johannesburg drivers who received illegal fines at roadblocks to institute civil litigation

JOHANNESBURG – Following a parliamentary question asked of the Minister of Transport by Adv A de W Alberts (FF Plus) and a High Court Application brought before the South Gauteng High Court, JPSA is delighted to see that the Minister of Transport has confirmed what we have been saying about the wanton misapplication of the AARTO Act by the JMPD is indeed illegal.

This is not the first time that the JMPD’s actions of sending out AARTO 03 infringement notices out by ordinary mail and subsequently forcing motorist to pay them when stopped in roadblocks under threat of arrest has been confirmed as being illegal. In November 2010, the then acting Registrar of the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) also confirmed this in public.

The problem is that despite these confirmations by the Registrar and now the Minister, the practice has not ceased and the JMPD has effectively been allowed to continue acting as they wish. In June 2011, JPSA brought a written complaint to the Public Protector in an attempt to halt the JMPD’s unlawful actions and to date; this complaint has not reached finality. The JMPD continues to butcher the AARTO Act and do as it wishes, regardless of what the law says and in apparent defiance of everyone, including the Minister of Transport.

Now that the matter is to go before the High Court, we are quite certain that the JMPD and the RTIA will be compelled to start acting within the bounds of the law and this day cannot come too soon. It is incomprehensible that a law enforcement agency can act outside of the bounds of the law to start with and it is even more incomprehensible that such extraordinary effort should be required to get them to act lawfully.

One has to ask why it is that the JMPD has been allowed to act as it has by those who have the power to stop them from acting unlawfully. One also has to ask why it is that a High Court action has to be mounted in order to stop a law enforcement agency from acting illegally when all it should have taken was a simple instruction for them to abide by the provisions of the Act by entities on whose behalf they claim to act. The RTIA is not blameless in this matter as they have allowed the JMPD, not only to act unlawfully, but to effectively steal monies that should have gone to the RTIA from them. They have also allowed the JMPD to usurp their function by allowing the JMPD to “adjudicate” over the very same illegal infringement notices that they have issued, thereby acting as issuer, judge, jury and executioner – in direct contravention of the AARTO Act and PAJA.

Somewhere along the line, an official order for the refund of the illegal fines that have been paid will have to be issued, and when it is, it is arguable that “all hell is going to break loose”. When it is, JPSA will be ready to assist members of the public to get their money back. JPSA similarly encourages members of the public who have been forced to pay these fines under threat of arrest to institute civil litigation against the JMPD for unlawful arrest and would be happy to assist members of the public to institute such action.

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