I would like to know if it is legal for a person/s in unmarked car to be taking videos at intersections for which traffic fines are been sent.
I have been watching 2 cars at an intersection in Port Elizabeth, white BMW and a red golf,who’s occupants are not in uniform taking videos of cars and I know of a fine that has been received at that intersection.
There are no warning signs of cameras in the vicinity.
I have heard of this happening in Cape Town and now you say that it is happening in Port Elizabeth too.
There are no TCSP guidelines for this type of exercise and since no measurement as such is taking place, they would probably not be deemed necessary. My understanding of these exercises is that the persons involved in them simply park off and film people disregarding stop signs etc. Insofar as warning signs go, if you think about it, a sign warning people to abide by traffic signs sounds a little bizarre and it is undeniable that if a command sign (such as a stop sign) exists, motorists have a duty to obey it.
In my view, there is little legally wrong with this so long as the traffic fines that get issued are issued by a qualified traffic officer. It does however make me wonder why it is that prosecutors would be willing to prosecute these matters and not willing to do anything about footage captured on dash cams. The other problem I have with this type of enforcement is the fact that the offender is not stopped at the time. Disregarding a stop sign is as dangerous as disregarding a red traffic signal and sending people fines in the post has limited value with respect to road safety, particularly since doing so could lead to a collision and the injury/death of others. There is absolutely no replacement whatsoever for visible, physical policing and what concerns me most about the proliferation of this kind of exercise is that it leads to lazy policing. After all, if they can catch multiple offenders on video and send them fines in the post, why would they be interested in rather forcing compliance by stopping offenders at the time and letting others see that physical enforcement is happening?
Unfortunately, it all comes back to the fact that traffic policing has come to mean revenue generation and that is the long and short of it.
National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)