Ndebele, Letsoalo threaten drivers while they rack up fines

2012-01-07 15:27

South Africa’s top traffic bosses, including no-nonsense Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele, are threatening a drastic crackdown on errant drivers.

This while their vehicles have run up a raft of traffic fines in the past three years.

Official records show that vehicles for which Ndebele and Collins Letsoalo, the Road Traffic Management Corporation’s (RTMC) controversial acting head, were the registered owners have been issued with 11 fines in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

These are the two pilot areas for the controversial licence point demerit system. Two of the fines were cancelled.

The details of the traffic infringements were obtained by Media24 Investigations as Ndebele and Letsoalo threatened to confiscate the driving licences of roadhogs and speedsters against a backdrop of a holiday bloodpath on the country’s roads.

The traffic fines show a silver 5-series BMW registered in Ndebele’s name drove through a camera trap at between 146 and 150 km/h on the N1 North in Johannesburg in July 2010.

Another speeding fine for the same vehicle, for driving between 96 and 100 km/h in a 60 km/h zone the day after, was cancelled.

Ndebele’s spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso insisted the minister had sold the BMW in June 2010 and had never driven it outside KwaZulu-Natal.

Rikhotso said the fine was probably an error that lay with the dealership where Ndebele bought the vehicle, but he could not provide City Press with the name of the dealership.

He could not say who paid the fine when the car was still in Ndebele’s name.

Letsoalo – whose job since February 2010 has tasked him with leading accident investigation, traffic enforcement and implementation of the points demerit system under the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto) – had nine fines issued against his vehicles between October 2008 and March last year.

The traffic violations include five for speeding and four parking fines slapped on four different vehicles registered to Letsoalo – two silver Mercedes Benz cars, a white Isuzu KB bakkie and a silver 5-series BMW.

One parking fine was cancelled. Among the fines was one for R1 000 for driving between 126 and 130 km/h in a 100 km/h zone and R750 for driving between 101 and 105 km/h in an 80 km/h zone.

Letsoalo insisted he was not the driver of the vehicles. “I’ve got a driver who takes me around and my wife drives all those vehicles.

“My brother drives those vehicles, my cousins and sometimes my father; I’ve got a lot of people driving those cars. But what I do, like any ordinary law citizen, I pay all the fines under my name. I’m not above the law.”

Howard Dembovsky, chairman of the Justice Project South Africa, which runs the independent Aarto information website www.aartofacts.co.za, said the fact that records showing both the speeding fine for Ndebele’s BMW and five of Letsoalo’s fines as “paid” suggested the two men had paid the fines themselves and had thus admitted guilt for the traffic violations.

Dembovsky said it was not impossible that the new owner of Ndebele’s car could have incurred the fine pending the transfer of the vehicle into his name.

However,he pointed out that prior to Letsoalo’s appointment as RTMC acting CEO, he had been a deputy director general in the national department of transport.

“He is not some civilian off the street. He should live by what he preaches and I hope he is going to cancel his own licence in light of his indiscretions since he sees fit to threaten everyone else.”

Dembovsky pointed out that 17 months after one of Letsoalo’s speeding offences was committed, the fine was still unpaid and no warrant of execution had been issued, as Aarto requires, suggesting that the system “is clearly not working properly”.

Robin Carlisle, the Western Cape transport MEC, a vocal critic of Letsoalo, said some of the offences committed in Letsoalo’s vehicles “should have resulted in the immediate arrest of the driver”.

“This is the man who is charged with implementing Aarto.

“And Aarto does not say it’s okay if you pay the fine. Aarto says if your speeding is of a certain nature, even when you’ve paid the fine, you’ll lose points on your licence.

“Here is the guy who has to implement Aarto, and he doesn’t understand the purpose of Aarto,” he said.

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