The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) on Wednesday admitted it had erred by issuing infringement notices through ordinary post instead of registered mail. However, those traffic offenders who had paid these fines will not be refunded. The move comes after Public Protector Thuli Madonsela investigated and released a report entitled “A matter of interpretation”, based on a complaint by Justice Project SA (JPSA) chairperson Howard Dembovsky.
She found that the JMPD had failed to follow proper procedure regarding the issuing of infringement notices. Such notices served by JMPD by ordinary mail for August 2010 to December 2012 did not comply with Section 30 of the Act, which requires the serving of infringement notices via registered mail. The JMPD has since issued an apology to the public for its non-compliance to the Act.
Dembovsky said JMPD would have to cancel six million fines at an average of R287 each with a total value of R1 722 000 000.
“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,” warned Dembovsky.
It has been widely known, however, that Johannesburg motorists do not pay their fines.
According to the Road Traffic Infringement Agency’s 2012/13 annual report, a total of R1.9 billion worth of fines were issued for various road offences between April and March in Gauteng alone.
Only 7% of that has been paid. A visit to the paycity.co.za website shows that all infringement notices starting with the prefix “02-4024” shows the status as ‘Case is already finalised’.
“This means that motorists will no longer be required to submit Aarto 08 representations for each and every one of them, including but not limited to the infringement notices sent by ordinary mail. Motorists will also no longer be intimidated over these unlawful fines in roadblocks established by the JMPD.”
Dembovsky commended the JMPD at a joint press conference it held on Wednesday.
“The last time anything like this happened was in 2009 when the JMPD programmatically cancelled all of the illegal fines it issued under the Criminal Procedure Act from 1 November 2008 to 11 February 2009 when it should have been issuing them in terms of the Aarto Act.
“The significant difference between then and now was that in 2009, it undertook to refund motorists who had paid unlawfully issued fines, but this time around is claiming that ‘a motorist who has paid fine has admitted guilt and therefore is not entitled to a refund’.“