uMhlathuze accused of bullying motorists

2013-10-10 00:00

THE town of uMhlathuze and Traffic Management Technologies (TMT) have been accused of using bullying tactics to collect outstanding fines from motorists.

TMT was appointed by uMhlathuze last year to provide traffic law enforcement in the area.

Other duties described in an agreement signed in February 2012 include providing speed-trapping cameras and stopping offending motorists and giving them summonses on the spot at roadblocks, with a clerk of the court who issues the summonses.

uMhlathuze spokesperson Vukile Mathabela did not respond to questions sent to him, but according to the minutes of the executive committee meeting of July 16, TMT collected R7 million in fines between June 2012 and April this year. They were paid R3,3 million, or 47% of the sum collected, for those services.

Empangeni Magistrate’s Court chief prosecutor Henry Wolfkop said the alleged “bullying tactics” employed by the town to make motorists pay their fines worried him.

Some of the measures that the town and TMT allegedly use to collect outstanding fines include withholding vehicle licence discs until the fines have been paid and conducting roadblocks where motorists with outstanding fines are served on the spot with court summonses.

“What is important is for motorists to know their rights. It pains me when a motorist pays a fine that could have been disputed and easily gone in his or her favour in court,” said Wolfkop.

One of the reasons a traffic fine cannot be prosecuted in court is if the traffic officer issuing the ticket fills it in incorrectly. Wolfkop said a single minor mistake by the traffic officer issuing the ticket renders it invalid.

Yolanda Gielink of Gielink Attorneys said as a motorist she has also had some run-ins with the local traffic department.

“Traffic officers in a roadblock on John Ross [Highway] printed and showed me a list of my outstanding fines and told me I must pay on the spot,” said Gielink.

When she indicated to the traffic officers that she would not be paying, they told her that a summons would be issued by a person who they said was a clerk of the court.

“I was told the officers at the roadblock would then immediately serve me with the summons and I would be arrested.”

She said after she questioned their methods and told them she would open a case of unlawful detention and extortion, they handed back her driver’s licence and told her to leave as the machine printing the summons was broken.

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