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AARTO still not enforceable under ANC rule

In the FF Plus’s view, the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) is not enforceable as long as the ANC remains in power.

The party believes that the AARTO Act will not achieve what it is meant to, despite the Constitutional Court’s ruling that the Act is indeed constitutional.

AARTO’s pilot phase was rolled out in Johannesburg and Tshwane/Pretoria. It soon became evident, though, that injuries and deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents did not decrease at all since the system was implemented, on the contrary, they increased.

Thus, the AARTO legislation did not achieve its first core objective in terms of Section 2(a), namely to encourage compliance with road traffic rules and to promote road traffic safety.

According to the FF Plus, the Constitutional Court may have come to a different conclusion if the unenforceability and abuses that were committed under AARTO in Gauteng were brought to the Court’s attention.

As far back as 2014, a Gauteng court ruled against the then Minister of Transport for the irregular enforcement of the AARTO system.

The application was brought by Fines4U, which pays and adjudicates road traffic fines on behalf of road users.

Fines4U claimed, among other things, that the adjudication of its representations by the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) was unlawful, seeing as some representations were accepted and others rejected on exactly the same grounds.

The North Gauteng High Court exposed the alarming shortcomings of the AARTO system in its judgment.

The Court concurred with Fines4U that the RTIA’s inconsistent adjudication of representations is unacceptable, and that even technical defences could be used in making representations.

The Minister of Transport tried to appeal against the judgment, but was unsuccessful. This court ruling, therefore, still stands as a precedent against the abuses of the AARTO system, and may be used in the future to enforce lawful action.

Other problems that also became evident during the AARTO pilot period in Gauteng include the following:

• As soon as an infringement is committed, a notice must be issued within 40 days. In reality, many notices were not issued in time, but payment of the subsequent fines was still required. There were even cases where the notices were generated by the computer system, but were never issued and then the authorities still demanded payment of those fines. However, the Minister of Transport had already indicated in 2016 – in response to a parliamentary question by Adv Anton Alberts of the FF Plus – that any notices issued late are legally ineffectual. And yet payment for notices issued late was still demanded.

• The Post Office’s poor service also resulted in many notices being sent out late. At one time, RTIA failed to pay the Post Office for sending out AARTO notices and consequently, those notices were simply never delivered.

• In addition, there is no infrastructure in place to handle the large number of representations. At one stage, the Johannesburg Metro Police performed certain AARTO functions, which it was not authorised to do, like adjudicating representations.

• The Metro Police in Johannesburg also set up road blocks on numerous occasions where motorists were forced to pay their fines at once, even though the relevant legislation does not authorise such action.

• The worst case of AARTO mismanagement is the times when no infringement notices were issued for months on end. During these times under ANC rule, there was basically no policing of violations of the law on Johannesburg and Pretoria roads, seeing as the former, and more effective, Criminal Procedure Act, which had been used to prosecute road-related offences, was simply not enforced.

The AARTO system is clearly very sophisticated and it, therefore, requires an environment of integrity and high standards to function as it should.

Such an environment has not been created thus far. On the contrary, the new system has created an environment allowing numerous offences, to the detriment of the public, without making the relevant roads any safer.

A serious question mark also hangs over the Post Office’s ability to deliver the millions of future AARTO infringement notices on behalf of more than 2 000 local governments as soon as the system is officially implemented on national level.

AARTO is essentially a symbol of the ANC government’s sheer inability to manage any modern system in a way that benefits the country.

The system will only be successful in local governments governed by coalition governments, of which the FF Plus is part, like the Tshwane Metro.

Ultimately, AARTO can only be implemented successfully countrywide if a coalition government, of which the FF Plus is part, wins the 2024 general elections.

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