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#TaxiStrike: Scrapping mini-bus drivers' traffic fines 'sets a bad precedent'

2017-08-17 07:13

Johannesburg - On Wednesday News24 reported that taxi drivers embarked on illegal protest action in Tshwane, blocking several roads and railway lines and pelting passing cars with rocks. 

Wheels24 got in touch with national chairman of the Justice Project South Africa (NPC), Howard Dembovsky, and asked for his comment on the #TaxiStrike situation.

READ: #TaxiStrike - Joburg mini-bus drivers demand 'scrapping 100% of fines'

Dembovsky said:"It is extraordinary that it is being stated that a 60% discount has been offered – after enforcement orders have been issued by the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), and given the fact that the AARTO Act makes no provision whatsoever for this.

"The AARTO Act prescribes that a 50% discount on the fine (penalty) amount applies for 32 days from the date of service of an infringement notice. Once the 32 days have elapsed, the discount is forfeited and the RTIA applies additional fees for the courtesy letter and enforcement order.

"It is therefore my submission that any discount beyond what is prescribed by the Act is unlawful and even if it wasn’t, offering minibus taxi drivers such a discount whilst making “ordinary motorists” pay 100% of the cumulative total of the fine and fees in order to clear an enforcement order is unconstitutional.

"Once again, it is being demonstrated by authorities that there are two different road traffic laws – one for taxi drivers and one for everyone else. Then we wonder why it is that minibus taxi drivers don’t take the law seriously? I have noted that these taxi drivers have also cited what happened in Durban a couple of years ago, when the Durban Metro unlawfully reached an agreement not to prosecute minibus taxi drivers.

"I always knew that would come back to haunt everyone. How it could be reasonably expected by anyone that precedents set by other Metros would be ignored by the beneficiaries thereof is completely beyond me." 

'In terms of the traffic law'

Natalie Faure, lawyer at Law for All said: The taxi drivers’ demand that fines be scrapped have no legal basis. If they feel that the fines are invalid they can always apply to have it scrapped as provided for in terms of our traffic laws. 

"If their demands are met by the authorities, it will set a bad precedent and drivers in other industries could make the same demands. Fact is, breaking the law should not go unpunished."

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