On Tuesday 9 February 2015 the Road Traffic infringement Agency put out a media release with the grossly misleading headline: “UNPAID FINES BLOCK LICENSING BY AUTHORITIES”.
While the content of the release vaguely clarifies the matter and correctly states that an Enforcement Order will result in licensing transactions, it is important that this not be confused with a “traffic fine”.
In terms of Section 20(2) of the AARTO Act, the Registrar may authorise the issue of an Enforcement Order if he has satisfied himself that both, an infringement notice and a courtesy letter have been served on the alleged infringer by the prescribed means. In the case of an infringement notice this could be service that occurs in person at the time of the alleged infringement or by registered mail if it is served after the fact and in the case of a courtesy letter, this must be served by registered mail. An enforcement order must also be served by registered mail.
The more recent licence renewal notifications contain a misleading statement which reads as follows:
” Your application for a new Driving Licence Card or PrDP will not be processed unless all Enforcement Orders have been settled and all penalties and courtesy letter fees for outstanding Infringements are settled. Visit www.aarto.gov.za“
While the first part of the statement is true, the second part of it is untrue and is used by licensing authorities to mislead people into believing that they are compelled to settle ALL outstanding infringement notices including but not limited to the illegal infringement notices the JMPD issued from 1 June 2010 to 21 December 2012. The findings of the Public Protector on this issue was that the JMPD violated the provisions of the AARTO Act and as a result, the improperly served infringement notices were “irregular” and amounted to maladministration.
Motorists are advised to look closely at the part of this notification to see if an Enforcement Order has been issued against their particulars. If it says “Enforcement Order outstanding: No/Nee” and a licence disc is not automatically printed, motorists should ask for a R114 eNaTIS statement to determine whether they have outstanding licensing fees or penalties owing on other vehicles registered in their name, or a warrant of arrest issued against them by courts in the jurisdictions outside of the operational areas of the Johannesburg and Tshwane Metro Police Departments.
Licensing authorities have become fond of preying on the ignorance of the average motorist who does not know and/or understand the legislative provisions that allow blocking of licensing transactions. They also appear to be of the opinion that traffic fines are somehow excluded from the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven which is enshrined in Section 35 of the Constitution.
The media release by the RTIA should be viewed as a statement by the RTIA that they are going to resume following the legislated provisions of the AARTO Act and nothing more. Motorists who ignore infringement notices issued against their names are doing themselves no favours and would be better advised to deal with their traffic fines as quickly as possible when they receive them.
Admitting guilt and paying a traffic fine, whether it is issued under the AARTO Act or the Criminal Procedure Act is ONE of the options but it is not the only one. Any person has the unalienable right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and is fully entitled to mount a defence against any accusation of violation of any law – including traffic infringements/offences.
The RTIA is also tasked with EDUCATING people about the AARTO Act, but as yet, almost 7 years into the so-called “pilot phase” of the implementation of the AARTO Act, it has done very little to educate motorists and this is very sad indeed.
Anyone who wishes to educate themselves on the provisions of both, the AARTO Act or the Criminal Procedure Act is welcome to visit JPSA’s dedicated AARTO website at www.aarto.co.za. This must not be confused with the RTIA’s AARTO website is located at www.aarto.gov.za which does not present any of the abuses that have been perpetrated by authorities operating under the AARTO Act.
National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)