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'Pretoria minibus taxi protest action is misguided' - Justice Project South Africa

2017-08-21 13:43

Johannesburg - The mass action by minibus taxi drivers in Tshwane which played itself out on Wednesday 16 August 2017 is both unfortunate and misguided; and appears to highlight just how little people know about the AARTO Act which has been in force in Tshwane for more than nine years now says Justice Project South Africa (JPSA).

Earlier in June, News24 reported members of the taxi industry were on strike, blocking major roads, due to the high cost of owning a taxi. 

In August, another strike came a day after Toyota SA said it would support the taxi industry with complimentary service plans for new Ses’fikile taxis.

News24 reported that taxi drivers embarked onillegal protest action in Tshwane on Wednesday morning (August 16), blocking several roads and railway lines and pelting passing cars with rocks. 

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

It has been reported that minibus "taxi drivers embarked on illegal protest action in Tshwane on Wednesday morning, blocking several roads and railway lines and pelting passing cars with rocks" and are to hand a memorandum to the Mayor of Tshwane “complaining about law enforcement handing them tickets which prevent them from renewing their licenses” and/or professional driving permits.

'Adjudication procedure' 

JPSA says an infringement notice issued in terms of the AARTO Act is subject to the so-called "adjudication procedure” which is prescribed in Chapter III of the AARTO Act which in turn caters for a "courtesy letter" and an "enforcement order" after prescribed periods after the service of an infringement notice have lapsed.

Enforcement orders issued in terms of the AARTO Act are not the equivalent of a warrant of arrest. They do however block the issuing of a motor vehicle licence disc, a driving licence card and/or a professional driving permit, the JPSA explained.

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.

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

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.

Have you been caught up in the taxi strike? Do you think mini-bus taxi drivers' fines should be scrapped? What do you think government should do about unruly taxi drivers?  Email us

JPSA says: "The Cities of Tshwane and Johannesburg have no say in which specific infringement notices become enforcement orders and these enforcement orders can only be issued by the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA). Over the past few years, the RTIA has been issuing increased volumes of enforcement orders and in the 2015/16 financial year, 640 169 enforcement orders were issued.

"It is important to note that an enforcement order is issued in the complete absence of any trial since the AARTO Act does not interest itself with whether a person who is accused of a road traffic infringement is guilty or not. All it concerns itself with is administrative procedures."

JPSA has repeatedly raised this issue with the highest levels within the Department of Transport, only to be vilified by them.

"Regrettably, whilst the taxi drivers in question who are, to all intents and purposes, professional drivers may well have a legitimate gripe regarding enforcement orders being issued against their particulars in the absence of any trial, attacking members of the public and motorists, as well as causing mayhem in the two Cities in which the AARTO Act applies is not the right way to go and merely serves to increase the divide between taxi drivers and other motorists," says the firm.

"Furthermore, the concept that traffic fines issued to minibus taxi drivers should be treated any differently to those issued to ordinary motorists is nonsensical and whomever it is who is allegedly negotiating special fine discounts for minibus taxi drivers should stop acting unlawfully since the AARTO Act does not cater for this."

Read more on:    jpsa  |  howard dembovsky  |  pretoria  |  protest  |  taxi

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