New traffic fine system rollout begins in South Africa — when demerit points kick in

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has announced the start of the rollout of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto).

South Africa’s new traffic enforcement regime will be implemented in four phases over the course of a year, with the driving licence demerit point system set to kick in from 1 July 2022.

Mbalula summarised the various challenges that delayed the implementation of the system, saying that the most recent delays were caused by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown in South Africa.

“At the same time [there were] challenges at the management level of the entity that is driving this process,” Mbalula said, referring to the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA).

“The [RTIA] board have suspended a lot of people because of allegations of maladministration and corruption, arising from the Auditor-General’s report,” stated Mbalula.

“The board had to suspend people to do the clean-out because we can’t not act on the Auditor-General’s recommendations.”

The following table summarises the plan Mbalula provided for the phases in which Aarto functions are scheduled to be rolled out.

Phase Dates Aarto functions to be implemented
Phase 1 1 July 2021 – 30 September 2021
  • Establishment of 7 Aarto service outlets
  • eNATIS will be enabled to collect Aarto payments
  • Allowing Aarto elective options to be processed in Issuing Authorities and service outlets.
  • Communications campaign to educate motorists on Aarto
Phase 2 1 October 2021 – 31 December 2021
  • 67 local and metropolitan authorities proclaimed for Aarto rollout
  • 18 additional Aarto service outlets will be established
  • Adjudication process brought online in all provinces
  • Appeals Tribunal will enter full operation
Phase 3 1 January 2022 – 30 June 2022
  • 144 municipal areas will be added to the Aarto system
Phase 4 1 July 2022
  • Launch of the Points Demerit System
  • Introduction of rehabilitation programme for repeat offenders
  • 20 self-service kiosks will be established

The Automobile Association (AA) welcomed Mbalula’s announcement but added that no real roll-out of Aarto could occur until the system’s regulations are promulgated.

“Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula today announced a phased-in approach to the roll-out of Aarto, but these phases can really only be implemented once the regulations are finalised and enacted. This process may delay the final implementation of the system scheduled for July 2022,” the AA said.

The Association said that it stands by its reservations on aspects of the amendments to the Aarto regulations. It said that these amendments do not promote road safety but are instead geared towards revenue collection.

Although it supports the introduction of a points demerit system, the AA said that legislation alone not would alter poor driving behaviour in South Africa.

“South Africa’s annual road fatality rates are among the highest in the world per capita and amount to a national crisis,” the AA said.

It argued that legislation such as Aarto could only assist in reducing these numbers if there is proper implementation and effective law enforcement that supports it.

“For us, more attention must be given to the root causes of poor road safety, rather than simply introducing a system without consideration of the capacity of traffic law enforcement and other state services to implement it. Doing this will also speed up the process of achieving better road safety in our country.”

Now read: Drop South Africa’s speed limit in cities to 30km/h — Urban expert

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New traffic fine system rollout begins in South Africa — when demerit points kick in