Bid to quash traffic fines put on hold

JA WELL NO FINE: Pieter Swanepoel, pictured in January, with fines he wants scrapped

Municipality says court took case off the roll because it was ‘fatally flawed

A court bid by a Port Elizabeth businessman to have traffic fines quashed has been withdrawn from the Port Elizabeth High Court roll.

Businessman Pieter Swanepoel said it was just temporary, but municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said it was an indication that the case was flawed.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality alleges it has lost R50-million in revenue since Swanepoel and his company, Traffic Violation Specialist, approached the court to interdict the municipality from collecting fines which, he claimed, had been issued illegally.

His firm helps to get motorists’ fines scrapped or reduced, for a minimal fee.

Swanepoel launched the court action against the municipality and the National Director of Public Prosecutions and Traffic Management Technologies (TMT) – which is responsible for setting up speed cameras in the city – on December 12.

The metro’s safety and security department political head, councillor John Best, said he was aware of the case. “I will speak to the advocate and will give a detailed press statement next week,” he said last week.

Mniki said the application was withdrawn on the grounds that it was fatally flawed.

But Swanepoel said it had only been provisionally removed from the roll to enable him to acquire the services of a senior counsel and would be put back on the court roll later.

Mniki said that as a result of Swanepoel’s application, the municipality had not received payments for traffic fines estimated at R50-million, which seriously affected the municipality’s income.

“The further consideration is to attempt to dissuade Swanepoel from launching a further application after knowing what the municipality’s case is and tailor-making the application to get around such shortfalls,” he said.

However, Swanepoel insisted he would go ahead with the matter.

“The matter was provisionally withdrawn because I have just secured the services of a new advocate who wanted to familiarise himself with the merits of this case. The matter will be back on the court roll soon.”

Swanepoel’s lawyer, Carolyn Ah Shene-Verdoorn, said they had made several attempts to have the matter settled out of court but the municipality simply gave them the cold shoulder.

“We have always been open for discussion to settle this issue. We have made formal requests but were never given an opportunity.

“We are now forced to seek relief from the court, not only for our client but motorists as well.”

Swanepoel and the municipality have been at loggerheads for some time over the traffic fines and he argued summonses and notices sent to offending motorists were often erroneous and did not comply with proper citation requirements as set out in the Criminal Procedures Act

. He said he was calling on the court to:

  • Quash all traffic-related fines and summonses issued by the municipality and order that motorists be refunded;
  • Issue a prohibitory interdict against the municipality and TMT to stop issuing fines that contradict the Criminal Procedures Act;
  •  Issue an interdict that will prevent the municipality from demanding payment of fines at roadblocks; and
  • Issue an order that declares the contract between the municipality and TMT unlawful.

Swanepoel claimed TMT officials also manned roadblocks and issued fines even though they were not law enforcement agents. This was illegal, he said.

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