City road hogs beware

2010-09-23 00:00

TRAFFIC offenders who think they are invincible are in for a shock.

The Msunduzi Municipality has introduced a harsh new system to catch them — and recover more than R9 million in outstanding fines.

The automatic number plate recognition system (ANPR) is a new method of dealing with traffic offenders, and Pietermaritzburg is the only city that has it.

It was launched by Mayor Mike Tarr and officials of Safe City at the municipality’s fire department offices yesterday afternoon.

Tarr expressed excitement that the municipality has come up with a successful system to recover overdue debts for the cash-strapped municipality.

He warned traffic offenders either to come forward and pay their outstanding fines or face being caught by the system.

“Please check if you have outstanding fines and pay them, because we will catch you,” said Tarr.

Traffic officers use a laptop connected to the Safe City control room at roadblocks.

Safe City CCTV cameras photograph number plates and the database checks for offences. By the time the unsuspecting drivers approach the roadblock, officers are ready with a list of offences. They will be forced to pay on the spot by a credit or debit card, and the officers will not accept cash.

The system was designed by Mokros Traffic Monitoring System, which manufactures road-speed cameras.

The 67 Safe City CCTV cameras were initially installed to fight crime in the city, but they now have the added the duty of tracking down traffic offenders.

The offences targeted include unpaid traffic fines, unroadworthy vehicles, fake registrations, stolen vehicles and expired licence discs.

“Since the pilot project was started on September 2 we have issued 310 warrants of arrest, made 278 arrests and recovered R212 000,” said the acting strategic executive manager for community services, Kwenza Khumalo.

Also involved in developing the system were the National Prosecuting Authority, the police and Business Fighting Crime.

Safe City chairperson Zinhle Sokhela said the system will help traffic officers to avoid holding up traffic at roadblocks.

“Outstanding fines may be paid on the spot, thereby avoiding arrest.

“The purpose of the ANPR is not only about generating income, but it will detect stolen or wanted vehicles circulated on the SAP eNatis systems,” said Sokhela.

Safe City co-founder Des Winship said the system will help eliminate offenders.

Taxi operators have indicated that they want to be offered discounts as they attempt to settle their overdue debts before being caught by the ANPR. Msunduzi Regional Taxi Council chairperson Boy Zondi said they will be the most affected. He said the best way for taxi operators would be to pay up right after being levied their fines.

Motorists who want to check whether they have outstanding fines should call 033 392 2584 or 033 392 2539 during working hours. On holidays and weekends call 033 392 2908.

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