Calls for traffic fine amnesty

2013-06-07 00:00

MSUNDUZI councillors are undecided over whether to grant another traffic fine amnesty to city motorists. There was an amnesty period last year, from February to July.

The municipality’s Traffic Department asked the Executive Committee (Exco) yesterday to allow drivers with outstanding fines to pay half of what they owe for a six-month period. The amnesty period would be from a date determined by the Director of Public Prosecutions. After a lengthy discussion Exco stood down the matter. Committee members wanted a breakdown of figures and they wanted to know how much money was collected during the last amnesty period.

This was after the deputy municipal manager for community services, Nomonde Mnukwa-Gwabeni, told Exco that during the last amnesty period a substantial amount was recovered. She said that there was currently R11million in unpaid fines owing to council and that the amount was steadily growing. Mnukwa-Gwabeni said the problem lay with a culture of non-payment of fines. This was compounded by the delays in the traffic courts due to the heavy workload and the shortage of traffic officers to ensure enforcement of by-laws and that fines were paid.

Councillor Eunice Majola (ANC) was not comfortable with the recommendation. Majola said less than a year ago there was an amnesty and if there was another one so soon, it would create the impression that if you wait long enough your fine will be reduced when the next amnesty period comes around. Motorists will simply wait for amnesty periods and not bother to pay, she said.

Councillor Mergan Chetty (DA) said Exco needed to know how much money was collected during the last amnesty period, and whether the exercise was cost effective, before making a decision.

Mnukwa-Gwabeni said that they had used R1,4 million of the outstanding fines collected previously to buy five vehicles for the traffic department. Deputy municipal manager Thokozani Maseko said a lot more money had been collected than the R1,4 million that was used to buy vehicles. He told Exco that the amount would be made available by the next meeting.

Mayor Chris Ndlela agreed that the matter should stand down, saying: “Let’s look at all the figures before deciding”.

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