Johannesburg - The Justice Project SA (JPSA) on Wednesday called for motorists who had been forced to pay traffic fines at roadblocks to lodge civil claims against the Johannesburg metro police department (JMPD).
"JPSA encourages members of the public who have been forced to pay these fines under threat of arrest to institute civil litigation against the JMPD for unlawful arrest and would be happy to assist members of the public to institute such action," said JPSA chairperson Howard Dembovsky. The call comes after Transport Minister Ben Martins admitted in his response to a parliamentary question that the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act did not provide for motorists with outstanding penalties to be arrested.
On Wednesday, the Business Day newspaper reported that Martins confirmed that traffic fines could not be delivered by ordinary mail, according to the Aarto Act.
Martins also said Act did not provide for motorists to be arrested for outstanding penalties, the newspaper reported.
Martins was answering a parliamentary question asked by Freedom Front Plus MP Anton Alberts on Tuesday.
He was quoted as saying if an authority issuing fines did not follow the prescripts of section 30 of the Aarto Act in delivering infringement letters, such documents could be interpreted as "never having been served".
"JPSA is delighted to see that the minister of transport has confirmed what we have been saying... the wanton misapplication of the Aarto Act by the JMPD is indeed illegal," said Dembovsky.
He said this was not the first time that the Johannesburg metro police's sending out of infringement notices had been confirmed as illegal.
"In November 2010, the then acting Registrar of the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) also confirmed this in public."
Dembovsky said despite confirmations by the registrar and Martins, the JMPD had been allowed to "continue acting as they wish".
"It is incomprehensible that a law enforcement agency can act outside of the bounds of the law to start with, and it is even more incomprehensible that such extraordinary effort should be required to get them to act lawfully," he said.