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Illegal to seize licences - JPSA

2011-12-29 08:34

LICENCE CONFISCATION: Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has called for the driving licences of traffic offenders to be confiscated with several drivers since 2010 having licences suspended or cancelled.

Johannesburg - There is no legal basis for traffic police to confiscate an alleged traffic offender's licence on the spot, Justice Project SA has warned.

The organisation's chairman, Howard Dembovsky, said: "There is no provision in the Transport Act or legislation for traffic police to confiscate licences. It is not within the law.

"I'm not saying licences should not be confiscated or suspended for serious offences, there is a way to do so." Only a courts could revoke a licence.

Shoot-from-the-hip national transport minister Sibusiso Ndebele said: "Drivers arrested for any offence must have their driving licence seized as well as suspended and/or cancelled."

He was reacting to the 900-plus road deaths so far in December 2011 and said harsher action was needed against traffic law offenders.

His spokesman, however, backtracked: "We cannot do anything without a legal basis. The National Road Traffic Act is clear regarding this matter and currently grants powers to the courts as well as to provincial transport MECs to cancel or suspend a driving licence."


Since October 2010, as part of a national rolling enforcement plan, several drivers have been jaileid without the option of a fine and seen their licence suspended or cancelled, for offences including drinking and driving, reckless and/or negligent driving and speeding.

Dembovsky said confiscating a driving licence at the roadside would amount to theft and expose the minister to criminal charges. It would also give traffic cops more scope to beg a bribe.

He said: "The minister might have been emotional when he made this call."

Ndebele said crashes were not accidents, but caused by "blatant disregard for traffic laws, which include overloading, drunk driving, speeding and unsafe overtaking". The authorities would continue to become more aggressive in dealing with irresponsible drivers.


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