JMPD violating Road Traffic Act - claim
Johannesburg - The Johannesburg metro police department (JMPD) was accused on Tuesday of violating the Road Traffic Act by sending infringement notices to offenders through standard permit mail.
But the road traffic management corporation (RTMC) has insisted the JMPD was abiding by the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto).
Justice Project SA chairperson Howard Dembovsky told reporters on Tuesday: "The notices are normally sent by registered mail, but JMPD management started sending them on standard permit mail on June 1 last year, saying it saved them R15 per mail item."
Dembovsky described the practice as corrupt and said it was a violation of Aarto.
"Up to eight million notices were sent to traffic offenders for 18 months," he said in Roodepoort.
"The department had in return generated more than R1.1bn after traffic offenders paid the fines."
The infringement notices covered a variety of offences, especially speeding, in which drivers were captured on camera.
Dembovsky said the JMPD only started using registered mail again in January this year, after the acting registrar of the road traffic infringement agency, Japh Chuwe, wrote to JMPD chief Chris Ngcobo requesting them to do so.
Dembovsky said his organisation had also sent a complaint to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, asking her to probe the department.
"We have received dozens of reports from the people who complained about the high level of corruption that exists within the JMPD," Dembovsky said.
"I can assure the public that we are tackling this corruption head-on and it will soon be a thing of the past."
Ashref Ismail of the RTMC said: "The whole JMPD has been operating under the Aarto Act since 2009, but I do not know if they have been issuing infringement notices by standard permit or registered mail."
Ismail declined to comment on the graft accusations.
"I cannot comment on the other claims of corruption made by the Justice Project South Africa against JMPD," he said.
Waiting for government response
JMPD spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said metro police used to send fines by registered mail, but nobody collected them from the Post Office as they didn't know what they were getting.
Metro police then applied to national government to send fines by regular mail. They were, however, still waiting for a response.
According to Section 30 of the Aarto Act 46, of 1998: "Any document required to be served on an infringer in terms of this Act must be served personally or by registered mail, and it is regarded to have been served on the date the infringer has signed for the receipt of the document."
Minnaar, however, responded by saying that the act did not prohibit other attempts by metro police to send fines to people.
"The focus is to inform motorists. Previously no one responded [to the registered mail]. Now a huge percentage are paying.
"Aarto is a pilot project, so we are at liberty to try a message which will work in favour of the community."
The Aarto Amendment Act 22 of 1999 does away with the need for a traffic offender to sign for the letter for him or her to have been considered served with the notice.
Instead the fine is regarded to have been served 10 days after the date stamped on the receipt by the Post Office which accepted the document for registration.