The number of cellphones impounded by traffic police in Cape Town is on the rise, says an official.
Since 2012, Cape Town traffic police have impounded phones from drivers who are caught using their handsets without legal hands-free kits.
And city officials on Tuesday confirmed an increase in the number of devices impounded by law enforcement officers.
“The number of phones impounded for the quarter October to December 2015 was 1 539, compared to 1 205 during the same period in 2014,” mayoral committee member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith, told Fin24.
JP Smith said the City has the right to sell impounded property after three months of impound.
However, there were delays in selling some phones before the City appointed Zwelonke CC as the service provider to remove personal data from the devices.
“There has been a delay with the disposal of cellphones primarily because the City had to wait for the processes relating to the fines attached to the contravention to run their full course in the courts, as well as due to the need to effect the removal of personal data before disposal,” Smith said.
The City has previously said that because of the falling value of some devices, it planned to donate unclaimed cellphones to community organisations.
But Smith said that this plan was subject to review.
“With the appointment of the service provider, we hope to clear personal data at a much quicker pace and with the shorter turnaround time, there might be greater appetite for auctioning the devices. All those not sold will continue to be donated to worthy organisations.”
Zwelonke CC has thus far removed data from 1 259 cellphones but Smith said that the door was open for people who may want to reclaim their recently impounded phones.
“A person whose phone was impounded can, however, visit the Gallows Hill Traffic Department and produce the original fine or their identity document so that the fine may be tracked down. Staff will be able to determine whether the phone is still in the City’s possession,” said Smith.
The fee to release a phone is set at R1 140.
From June to November, Cape Town impounded 2 738 cellphones and released 1 126.