Johannesburg - In January 2016, the City of Cape Town launched its new Metro Police Roadblock unit - a law-enforcement group dedicated to roadblocks within the City.
Wheels24 reported that Capetonians will face daily roadblocks. Wheels24 users were understandably outraged.
It seems however that Western Cape road-users are not alone as Gauteng might face daily roadblocks.
Fines served directly to drivers
According to an article by Timeslive.co.za, Johannesburg city officials report that officers would carry out more roadblocks to serve traffic fines directly to offenders (i.e issue motorists with spot fines).
The reason? To save the city millions in postage costs as it moves to eliminate the need for infringement notices sent by registered mail.
The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JPMD) will be targeting drunk and reckless drivers as well as other road offenders. The JPMD reports it issues 400 000 traffic fines, with an average value of R200, each month.
Do you think regular road blocks will curb drunk drivers and car thieves? Do you think it will improve road safety? Email us your thoughts.
While the City of Johannesburg speaks of "more roadblocks" the JMPD says there has been "no issue of more frequent roadblocks" than usual.
Wheels24 has reached out to City of Joburg's manager Trevor Fowler for a response.
JMPD spokesperson, Edna Mamonyane, says: "The JMPD has always had regular roadblocks. This is nothing new. The JMPD is never static, we are out on roads every day and every weekend. We specifically target drunk drivers.
"In regards to the traffic infringements that everyone is talking about, we constantly check if road users have outstanding fines and enforcement orders and remind them to make a plan to pay them."
Read: Roadblocks in SA - 'Difference between fear and respect'
Mamonyane says the JMPD does have a designated unit, much like Cape Town's Roadblock unit, called the 'Dräger unit'.
She says: "Previously the unit used to be named the 'Warrant Squad', but since we no longer issue warrants of arrest, but rather enforcement orders, they're now called the ' Dräger unit' - based on the device used to measure the alcohol limit of drunk drivers.
'Roadblocks are a major concern'
The Justice Project of South Africa (JPSA) says if true, these new daily roadblocks in Gauteng are a "major concern for a number of reasons, not least of which is the serious disruptions caused to already poor traffic flow in Johannesburg and the fact that roadblocks do not tackle the vast majority of moving violations which cause injuries and loss of life on our roads."
JPSA national chairman Howard Dembovsky says: "It is not clear whether the purpose of these roadblocks is going to be to look for unfit vehicles and drivers by inspecting vehicles and screening drivers or to serve camera speeding-fines on motorists instead of using registered mail as is prescribed by the Aaarto Act.
'Not catered for'
"This is unlawful because regulation 3(1)(b) of the Aaarto Act states that 'An infringement notice contemplated in section 17(1) of the Act shall be issued and served or caused to be served to the infringer by registered mail, on a form similar to form Aaarto 03 as shown in Schedule 1, within 40 days of the commission of the infringement.' Personal service of infringement notices in relation to camera speeding-fines is not catered for anywhere in the Aaarto Act and Regulations."
Dembovsky added that although personal service of AARTO infringement notices is raised in the AARTO Act and Regulations, this is only applicable where the infringer is stopped at the time of the alleged infringement and issued with an AARTO 01 or AARTO 02 infringement notice.
What to do next
Once an infringement notice is served in person, if the alleged infringer does not exercise one of the four options available to them within 32 days, says JPSA, the Road Traffic Infringement Agency would have to issue and serve a courtesy letter by registered mail. One of the four options is to pay the 50% discounted prescribed penalty.
If the alleged infringer still does not exercise one of the prescribed options after being served with a courtesy letter, then the registrar of the RTIA must issue and serve an enforcement order on that alleged infringer by registered mail, reports JPSA. An enforcement order has the effect of blocking the issue of a licence disc, driving licence and Professional Driving Permit (PrDP).
JPSA claims that since the inception of the Aarto Act in the jurisdictions of the Cities of Johannesburg and Tshwane, neither the JMPD, the TMPD, nor the RTIA have in fact used registered mail to serve infringement notices and other documents they post.
JPSA said: "Registered mail, which is the prescribed method of posting infringement notices and other documents required to be served in terms of the Aarto Act is not only a specifically defined service offered by the South African Post Office, but is significantly different in its functionality to the “secure mail” or “hybrid mail” services the SAPO offers and which the JMPD, TMPD and RTIA have utilised since the inception of the Aarto Act.
"The City of Johannesburg and the JMPD appears to be adopting a similar strategy to the one it adopted when, between June 1 2010 and December 22 2012, when it posted Aarto infringement notices using ordinary mail and then set up roadblocks all over Johannesburg wherea it threatened motorists with arrest if they did not pay infringement notices they had not received in the mail. JPSA brought a successful complaint against the JMPD with the Public Protector, who released her report in December 2014.
"Perhaps the City of Johannesburg’s latest strategy is associated with the fact that when the Public Protector found that the JMPD has engaged in unlawful actions and maladministration, the only sanction that was brought against the JMPD was them being ordered to publish a “public apology” in the newspaper, but they were allowed to retain the monies they had raked in illegally."
'Don't be intimidated by threats of arrest'
Dembovsky says: "Warrants of arrest are not contemplated anywhere in the Aarto Act for outstanding infringement notices, regardless of at what stage an infringement notice is at. Motorists are advised not to be intimidated by threats of arrest levelled at them by JMPD officers manning roadblocks looking for payment of traffic fines. Instead, motorists may ask such officers for a comprehensive printout of any outstanding fines they have, where after they should exercise one of the prescribed (legislated) options available to them in terms of the Aarto Act.
"It’s a huge pity that the City of Johannesburg and the JMPD have apparently still not reached the realisation that by simply complying with the prescripts of the AartoAct, it could realise the huge revenues from traffic fines it remains so fixated on budgeting for. It’s an even bigger pity that they apparently have no interest in reducing the incidence of violations of traffic law but instead choose to continue to violate the provisions of the Aarto Act. JPSA looks forward to its day in court."