Footage of a metro police officer demanding an immediate R600 “spot fine” has resurfaced on social media, posing the important question of what a “spot fine” really is.
The footage shot from a dashcam, by motorist Phil Maloney, shows an officer demanding the on-the-spot payment from him for speeding. The officer stopped Maloney to inform him he was driving at around 77km per hour in a 60km/h zone.
She questioned Maloney’s foreign driver’s licence and ended up informing him that she would issue him with the spot fine for R600 as his licence was an issue.
“We are going to write you a ticket and you are going to pay it now because you are not staying here…”
Maloney responded by saying he cannot pay the ticket immediately as he lived in Pretoria, but was willing to pay the fine. A moment later, another officer pitched next to Maloney’s vehicle to ask him if he had decided on his course of action.
Moments later, still with no visual evidence of the R600 ticket, Maloney was asked to step out of his vehicle in order to have a word with the officers. In the footage, Maloney claimed the officers suggested he delete the footage before asking him to follow another officer to pay the fine at a local police station.
Maloney ended off by getting into his vehicle to allegedly follow an officer to the police station where he paid a reduced fine of R200.
So what exactly is this “spot fine” and why were the officers stressing that he had to pay it “now”?
The Citizen spoke to Rustenberg metro public safety spokesperson Superintendent Amos Magasa in an effort to gain clarity on the term spot fine and whether traffic legislation was different in North West in comparison to Gauteng.
Magasa described it as a term used to refer to situations where an official issued a ticket on the spot to a motorist who had committed a traffic violation.
In explaining the term, he said officers were requested to inform motorists who did not reside in the country that they needed to make payment as soon as possible.
He, however, explained that payment was meant to be made at a local, provincial or national department, where a receipt of payment would be issued.
Asked if officers could demand immediate payment, Magasa said officers could only demand it at a roadblock where officers had a mobile office van on location. The officers would check the motorist’s licence after stopping them to see if they had any pending warrants of arrest or were in contempt of court.
Only in that event could metro officers demand immediate payment from a motorist. At the checkpoint, the officers could then provide a receipt to the motorist as proof of payment for any outstanding traffic violation. It was in that instance that officers could detain a motorist who failed to pay his or her ticket.
Magasa also stated that motorists could make payment at a police station under certain circumstances: if there was an issue with the motorist’s driver’s licence and if the motorist did not live in the country.
Types of traffic fines:
There are two types of traffic fines in South Africa: One is a Section 341 fine, which a motorist will receive in the mail, attached to their vehicle if they violated a traffic law or have been caught on camera for speeding in a particular area, according to Law for all.
Should a motorist not pay the fine, a summons stipulating a court date will be issued.
Another would be a Section 56 fine, which a motorist will personally receive from an officer who has pulled them over for breaking the law.
Unlike a Section 341, there is no second notice issued for this kind of fine as the ticket already includes a trial date which serves as a summons.
Should a motorist not pay the fine, they must appear in court to state their case.
Maloney has reportedly received threats of a defamation lawsuit by the department and has also allegedly laid a complaint against the officers.
According to the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA) 93 of 1996, any person convicted of an offence concerning negligent or reckless driving shall be liable for a fine or imprisonment.
Any other non-compliance with the NRTA could lead to a fine or imprisonmen.
The Act does allow officers to issue an on-the-spot fine, which motorists have often perceived as a solicitation of a bribe.