If you are planning a trip this festive season and unfortunately have outstanding fines, prepare to face the full might of the law according to the traffic police.
This follows the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) issuing a statement whereby they assert, they will not allow you to proceed if you have any outstanding fines—if stopped during the festive season. Laying testament to this, according to the RTMC, a total of 128 roadblocks have already been conducted—which has noted 71 328 vehicles being stopped, 56 805 traffic fines issued, 312 vehicles discontinued, 525 vehicles impounded, and 541 arrests made.
In a statement, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) advises all motorists to check if they have any outstanding traffic fines before embarking on their festive journeys.
It adds, “Traffic officers are being deployed on all major routes and those found with outstanding traffic fines will not be allowed to proceed.” This is a somewhat concerning statement for an array of reasons, but the biggest concern is, it infringes upon your legal rights as a South African citizen, according to the Automobile Association (AA).
In response to the statement issued by the Traffic Department, the Automobile Association (AA) annunciates, the RTMC must immediately retract the statement, as well as apologise to motorists for creating a false impression of the RTMC’s law enforcement capability.
The AA goes onto say, “If this approach is followed through by law enforcement officers, it amounts to an immense abuse of power and the RTMC will effectively be stealing citizens’ rights. It is beyond belief that an organisation tasked with enforcing the law – and headed by an Advocate of the High Court – can make such a disgraceful statement clearly threatening citizens, instead of focusing on how to enforce the law better.”
Moreover, the outraged AA emphasises the statement indirectly claims that motorists with outstanding traffic fines will be arrested, which is a significant contravention of South Africa’s laws.
The Association elaborates, “The only time a road user may be detained at the roadside is if a warrant of arrest is issued against their name. Preventing someone from proceeding on a journey because of an outstanding traffic fine, amounts to arrest without following due process. We cannot stress how totally shameful and outrageous such a statement is.” Pointing out that no clarity is given on what exactly an outstanding traffic fine is, the AA states the RTMC does not elaborate if an unpaid fine is a fine which was issued last week, last month, or yesterday.
The Association says it is concerned traffic law enforcement officers will use the above statement to misapply the law and apply traffic law as they see fit. This coupled with the fact that motorists travelling over the festive season now run the risk of becoming victims of over-zealous enforcement officers, intent on generating revenue and cashing in on motorists’ fears of jail time.
While the AA claims the statement from the RTMC suggests it’s looking at scaring motorists with a new (illegal) approach to law enforcement—what are your thoughts on the situation?
Share your views with us in the comment section below.
Authors: Quinton Boucher and Calvin Swemmer
Edited: Calvin Swemmer