Cops ready for de­merit sys­tem

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - PATSY BEANGSTROM NEWS EDI­TOR

TRAF­FIC of­fi­cials in Kim­ber­ley are ready for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Ad­min­is­tra­tive Ad­ju­di­ca­tion of Road Traf­fic Of­fences Amend­ment Bill (Aarto Amend­ment Bill), which will see the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the de­mer­its point sys­tem.

The bill was passed by the Na­tional As­sem­bly ear­lier this week, bring­ing it one step closer to be­ing signed into law.

From here, it will be sent to the Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces for adop­tion and then for Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to be signed into law.

Min­is­ter of Trans­port, Joe Maswan­ganyi, yes­ter­day wel­comed the pass­ing of the bill by the Na­tional As­sem­bly, point­ing out that it was a di­rect re­sult of the un­ten­able and un­sus­tain­able road safety chal­lenge in South Africa.

“South Africa has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a tre­men­dous loss of lives, es­pe­cially of young peo­ple, as well as the con­tin­ued dis­re­gard of road traf­fic laws,” Maswan­ganyi stated.

In 2014 there were 10 364 crashes that caused 12 702 fa­tal­i­ties; in 2015 there were 10 613 crashes that caused 12 994 fa­tal­i­ties; and in 2016 there were 11 676 crashes that caused 14 071 fa­tal­i­ties.

“So as a coun­try, we need to act with re­solve and turn­around this un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion. We must act with con­vic­tion and take re­spon­si­bil­ity for our sit­u­a­tion,” Maswan­ganyi stated.

Re­fer­ring to the de­merit point sys­tem, he ex­plained that it would pro­vide for an easy and ob­jec­tive mech­a­nism of iden­ti­fy­ing ha­bit­ual in­fringers so that the ap­pli­ca­ble penal­ties can be im­posed.

“Those that con­tinue to break the laws will find them­selves ul­ti­mately los­ing their driv­ing li­cences through sus­pen­sions and can­cel­la­tions of their driver’s li­cences. We must re­mem­ber that a driv­ing li­cence al­ways be­longs to the gov­ern­ment and ev­ery­one that wants to ex­er­cise this ben­e­fit must com­ply with the con­di­tions re­lated there,” Maswan­ganyi warned.

He added, how­ever, that Aarto did not only pro­vide for a puni­tive mea­sure but also for the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of driv­ers that might have lost their driv­ing li­cences.

“Driv­ers can re­deem them­selves through the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grammes. In this way, we can in­flu­ence those driv­ers to change their be­hav­iour to easy com­pli­ance with road traf­fic laws,” he stated.

Ac­cord­ing to Maswan­ganyi, the Amend­ment Bill also makes deal­ing with in­fringe­ments very easy and quick and that it will be done through the Ap­peals Tri­bunal.

“The tri­bunal will elim­i­nate the back­log and bur­den of deal­ing with in­fringe­ments through the courts. This will elim­i­nate the bur­den and bot­tle­necks from the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

“The act makes pro­vi­sion for the elec­tronic ser­vice of doc­u­ments, which will make it eas­ier for all road users to be in­formed of the sta­tus of their in­fringe­ments. The elec­tronic ser­vice of doc­u­ments will fur­ther have low cost ben­e­fits to the state and the road user.”

The bill is not with­out con­tro­versy and has come un­der se­vere crit­i­cism, in­clud­ing be­ing la­belled as a bu­reau­cratic night­mare that will be costly to im­ple­ment.

The Jus­tice Project South Africa de­scribed the bill as “more bad news for motorists”, adding that it “brought with it some pretty omi­nous pro­vi­sions with se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions for hold­ers of driv­ing li­cences and/or own­ers of mo­tor ve­hi­cles”.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion points out that amongst the amend­ments are the com­plete re­moval of the courts from the Aarto process, mak­ing it com­pul­sory in­stead to make writ­ten rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the Road Traf­fic In­fringe­ment Author­ity (RTIA).

“This is a state-owned en­ter­prise, funded al­most en­tirely by traf­fic fine rev­enues.”

A newly cre­ated tri­bunal will hear ap­peals on RTIA de­ci­sions.

“Ap­pli­ca­tions for ap­peal/ re­view must be made to that tri­bunal within 30 days of the ad­verse de­ci­sion and must be ac­com­pa­nied by the pay­ment of a fee, still to be de­ter­mined by the Min­is­ter of Trans­port,” the Jus­tice Project stated.

“Fail­ure to act within the pre­scribed time­frame will speed­ily lead to the is­su­ing of an en­force­ment or­der which blocks the is­su­ing of a driv­ing li­cence, a pro­fes­sional driv­ing per­mit, any per­mit or li­cence is­sued in terms of any road traf­fic leg­is­la­tion or trans­port leg­is­la­tion and/ or the is­sue of a ve­hi­cle li­cence disc, along with the im­po­si­tion of de­merit points on the al­leged in­fringer’s driv­ing li­cence.

“In ad­di­tion, de­merit points will now be ap­plied against the driv­ing li­cences of prox­ies for ju­ris­tic en­ti­ties (com­pa­nies, etc) which are reg­is­tered own­ers of mo­tor ve­hi­cles – in re­la­tion to in­fringe­ments com­mit­ted by other peo­ple who drive those ve­hi­cles. The ac­tual driv­ers who com­mit such in­fringe­ments will be able to evade the points de­merit sys­tem, by sim­ply driv­ing ve­hi­cles reg­is­tered to ju­ris­tic en­ti­ties.

“Clearly delin­quent driv­ers must be taken to task for their trans­gres­sions and sus­pend­ing the driv­ing li­cences of ha­bit­ual of­fend­ers may as­sist in that re­gard.” Howard Dem­bovsky, chair­per­son of JPSA, said.

“How­ever, the more the Aarto Act is tam­pered with, the more it fo­cusses the dis­posal of what are seen to be ‘both­er­some pro­vi­sions’ of law which stand in the way of the rev­enue gen­er­a­tion process and the less it fo­cusses on road safety. This trav­esty sim­ply can­not go un­chal­lenged.”

Sol Plaatje Mu­nic­i­pal­ity spokesper­son, Sello Mat­sie, said yes­ter­day that lo­cal traf­fic au­thor­i­ties were ready for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new bill. “Of­fi­cers have un­der­gone train­ing and are in a po­si­tion to ef­fect the pre­scrip­tions of the bill, in­clud­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the de­merit sys­tem.”

He ex­plained that the sys­tem would be linked na­tion­ally.

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