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DA: 'Ministers not above law'

2012-07-30 10:55
Cape Town - A dozen ministers have come under the spotlight for amassing a collective R200 000 in fines. The latest official to come under the spotlight was Jeff Radebe with R34 600, though he pales in comparison to the R64 060 earned by mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu.

Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi "explained" that the National Road Traffic Act allows the drivers of VIP vehicles to exceed the speed limit and ultimately would avoid paying traffic fines.

Wheels24 said last week: "Short of a true emergency, involving threat to human life, and then only by emergency vehicles driven by properly trained people (which some of the current 'blue light' crew obviously are not), NOBODY should be above the laws of the road."

FINES WAVED FOR OFFICIALS


This week Ian Ollis, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of transport, echoed Wheels24 sentiments stating that ministers and VIP units were not above the law.

The National Road Traffic Act authorises officials to exceed the general speed limit when executing their duties however it states, “he or she shall drive the vehicle concerned with due regard to the safety of other traffic”.

Ollis said: "This raises the question as to what should be considered the VIP protection units’ duties when they are transporting ministers. Surely the exemption from traffic regulations is intended to allow for certain personnel to do what is necessary to respond to emergencies. Being late for a meeting or a dinner with friends does not constitute an emergency.

"Everybody has to get from A to B and has to abide by the speed limits, why should a minister not be made to obey those speed limits too?"

Legal experts have argued that when traffic cops or police officials are transporting ministers their “duty” is essentially to protect the life of the VIP. Ollis argues: "One would therefore assume that traffic violations 'in the line of duty' would only occur when the lives of the VIP passengers are in danger."

CALL FOR DETAILS

In reply to the DA’s question on traffic fines, the minister of police indicated that any fines incurred by official vehicles must be reported and supporting documents provided to the respective traffic department for the rescinding of traffic fines. This means that documentary evidence must exist to explain why each traffic violation could not have been avoided.

Ollis sadi: "We will be asking the transport minister to provide us with information on which fines have been rescinded and, in each case, to supply the documentation on which the decision to rescind was based."

"Ministers should not be given special treatment due to their position. They are not above the law and neither are their drivers," he insisted.

Top traffic offending ministers 2012:
Mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu - R64 060
Minister of energy Dipuo Peters - R39 400
Justice minister Jeff Radebe - R34 600
Agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson - R30 400.
Water and environmental affairs minister Edna Molewa - R12 625
Science and technology minister Naledi Pandor - R9800

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