Warning to defiant motorists over fines

Drivers refusing to cough up could be arrested, says Best

Motorists with outstanding fines and warrants of arrest will have to cough up or face possible arrest. The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is sitting with unpaid fines totalling more than R347-million and an additional R54.8-million owed in outstanding warrants of arrest.

The money owed relates to 1.1 million cases of unpaid fines and 64 000 cases related to warrants of arrest.

The municipality has urged motorists not to make reckless statements encouraging others not to pay their fines, saying this hampers the metro’s legal processes.

According to the municipality’s political head of safety and security, John Best, only 25% of people who receive fines or court summonses actually pay up or appear in court.

The warning to pay outstanding fines comes after Pieter Swanepoel, of Traffic Violation Specialists, withdrew his court application to have all traffic-related fines and summonses quashed earlier this month.

He contends the fines were illegally issued in the metro.

“Mr Swanepoel’s legal representative has now informed him that his application is totally flawed,” Best said.

“He has withdrawn the application and tendered to pay the municipality’s costs.”

But Swanepoel said at the time that 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. He insisted he would go ahead with the matter.

Best said, however: “Any person who has received a summons to appear in court must either appear in court or pay the fine before the specified date.

“Failure to pay or appear in court on the court date will result in a warrant of arrest being issued.”

The metro will, meanwhile, implement a Natis block on the relicensing of vehicles by anyone who has an outstanding warrant of arrest.

It was given permission by the Department of Transport to do so.

“[This] means that vehicle owners who have warrants outstanding will not be able to relicense motor vehicles registered on their names until the outstanding warrants have been settled,” Best said. “The traffic department and the newly established metro police have in the past eight months issued thousands of fines in terms of the National Traffic Act and our legislated bylaws to make our streets safe and address ongoing challenges of lawlessness.

“I have requested the chief traffic officer to apply to the chief magistrate to increase certain fines that have a major influence on road safety within the metro.”

The fines that have been increased with immediate effect are:

ý Driving a vehicle without a valid driver’s license – up from R1 000 to R1 500; ý Failing to comply with a stop sign – increased from R1 000 to R1 500;

ý Failing to stop at a red traffic signal – up from R1 000 to R1 500; and

ý Holding a cellphone in your hand or any other part of the body while driving – almost doubling, from R800 to R1 500.

Best said traffic and metro police officers would be manning roadblocks over the next three months to check for outstanding warrants.

“Any person stopped who has a warrant of arrest outstanding will be arrested and brought before court,” he said.

The metro police had also acquired four “ghost” vehicles to catch road users who ignored red traffic lights, stop streets or speed limits, or committed any other traffic violations, Best said.

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