Traffic fine law fightback — New DA-led cities could block Aarto

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is working on a cohesive response to the doomed Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act.

Speaking to Rapport, DA local government spokesperson Cilliers Brink said that he and transport spokesperson Chris Hunsinger are working on recommendations for the party’s federal council.

According to the report, the DA could use its newfound position of power in three major Gauteng metropolitan municipalities to thwart Aarto.

Among the provisions set out in Aarto is a points demerit system for traffic offences.

If you accumulate 15 points on your driving licence, it is suspended. Your licence may be suspended twice before it is cancelled.

Cape Town’s DA-controlled municipal council and the Western Cape government have consistently opposed the rollout of the new system for managing traffic fines in South Africa.

The Cape Town mayoral committee council member for safety and security, JP Smith, said road safety in Johannesburg and Pretoria deteriorated after Aarto was implemented.

He will meet with his counterparts in Tshwane, Johannesburg, and Ekurhuleni on this issue in the coming week, the report stated.

Smith said that Cape Town agrees with the arguments brought by civil action group Outa against Aarto.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) brought a legal challenge against the implementation of Aarto, and hearings for the case kicked off in October.

Outa says it is challenging the constitutional validity of the two Aarto laws and will call on the court to declare both the main act and the amendment act unconstitutional.

The case was filed in July 2020 and has taken more than a year to get to the hearing.

“While we believe that measures to improve road safety and reduce fatalities are urgently needed, we don’t believe that the Aarto Amendment Act will achieve this,” says Advocate Stefanie Fick, executive director of the accountability and governance divisions at Outa.

“Aarto was rolled out in Gauteng 10 years ago and failed spectacularly. Statistics do not support the claim that it will lead to a reduction in fatalities on our roads,” Fick said.

Outa believes the Aarto legislation unlawfully intrudes upon the exclusive executive and legislative competence of the local and provincial governments envisaged in the Constitution.

Stefanie Fick
Stefanie Fick, Executive Director of the Accountability Division at Outa

If the court finds that the law is not inconsistent with the Constitution, then Outa said it further opposes Section 17 of the Amendment Act.

This section removes the requirement that notices and related documents be served personally or by registered mail — allowing e-mail, SMS or voice message.

Outa also believes that South Africa must have strict and unchallengeable traffic legislation to ensure behavioural changes in road users, which will lead to safer driving and fewer fatalities on our roads.

It said the true test of legislation is whether it will withstand constitutional scrutiny as legislation is only effective if government can enforce it.

“Furthermore, we also do not believe that the [Department of Transport] is ready to implement the AARTO Amendment Act,” the civil action group told MyBroadband in a statement.

“Even if the time periods stipulated in the pronounced roll out is adhered to, OUTA does not foresee successful implementation as the system relied upon is fatally flawed.”

Earlier this year, the Road Traffic Infringement Agency announced a four-phased rollout of Aarto beginning in June, with each phase lasting about three months.

“It is our opinion that the Aarto rollout programme is a mere smokescreen for the RTIA and the Department of Transport to hide behind because they were, in the first place, never ready to implement the Aarto system nationally,” Outa stated.

“Keeping in mind that phase two of the pronounced rollout should have commenced on 1 October 2021, yet, Outa (as with the rest of the public) does not know whether the RTIA was successful in the implementation of phase one.”

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

Now read: Legal fight to stop driver’s licence points demerit system in South Africa

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Traffic fine law fightback — New DA-led cities could block Aarto