The City of Cape Town has decided to donate cellphones impounded from motorists rather than auctioning them off.
City officials confirmed on Tuesday that the change came about because of mobile technology developments that impact on the value of impounded devices.
Drivers who are caught using their cellphones without legal hands-free kits in Cape Town can have their devices impounded by traffic police. Offending drivers then have to pay R1,140 to have their phones released.
Phones that aren’t reclaimed by drivers, though, are expected to be given away.
“While the Safety and Security Directorate initially considered auctioning the cellphones, we have subsequently decided to give the cellphones to community-based organisations like neighbourhood watch groups instead,” mayoral committee member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith told Fin24.
Smith said that the number of phones impounded during the holiday period still has to be verified. However, law enforcement officials collected 2 738 between June and November 2015 and, of those, 1 126 were released, said Smith.
The city reported that by June, 9 465 cellphones had already been impounded and 4 182 reclaimed.
Rapid technological development which results in phones becoming antiquated is a key reason for donating the phones.
“Most of the cellphones impounded (dating back to 2012) have been overtaken by newer iterations and so there is doubt about whether auctioning them would solicit sufficient interest,” said Smith.
He said the mayor will make the final decision on which organisations will receive the mobiles.
“The matter is currently with the executive mayor for a decision about which organisations should receive the devices.”