Fines amnesty rakes it in

2008-09-05 00:00

Outstanding fines down R39 million, R661 million still to go.

Durban Metro police were forced this week to extend their fine amnesty deadline to try to recover the gigantic amount still owed from errant motorists, most of whom are taxi operators.

The taxi industry has appealed for the extension so that owners can settle their fines and avoid criminal prosecution.

On Monday, an Umlazi taxi owner paid R400 000 in outstanding speeding fines. The initial amount was R800 000, but this was reduced because of the 50% discount offered during the amnesty.

This amnesty was due to end on September 4, but was extended to November 30 to allow more people to settle their fines.

Metro police spokeswoman Senior Superintendent Joyce Khuzwayo said the response from the public has been so good that the department decided to extend the deadline as well as accommodate taxi operators who owe money on several vehicles.

She said many taxi owners came forward to pay their outstanding fines, but some owed more than they could afford and appealed for more time to pay.

“There are some people who have more than one vehicle and could pay all the fines. They told us that they are prepared to settle all fines, but need more time,” she said.

Some were so desperate to settle their fines that they got to the Metro police headquarters in Old Fort Road at the crack of dawn on Thursday‚ the initial deadline — with chairs and flasks of coffee, all in an attempt to beat the long queues.

Even though huge signs announcing the extension were placed outside the offices, people still joined the lengthy queue.

Many said they had taken the day off from work and business to settle their fines.

Most motorists who spoke to Weekend Witness said they owed between R5 000 and R10 000.

Khuzwayo said the amnesty has gathered momentum and that most people who have the money still want to pay their fines now and not in November.

“We are so happy about the amount of people who want to pay us.

“Our staff has been working around the clock. Things are so hectic at times that even our computers can’t handle it,” she added.

Khuzwayo said that some of the money collected will go to the Metro police and the rest will be given to other departments.

Offenders who do not pay by November will face the full wrath of the law. They will be prosecuted in court and will have to pay the full amount.

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