News / Opinion / Columns
Andre De Kock
My fellow South Africans, I have a confession. I have broken our country’s law and am currently a fugitive from justice.
And, try as I might, there seems nothing I can do in paying my debt to society.
Let me explain. I own an old, diesel-engined Mazda bakkie. Like me, the vehicle is scarred and ugly.
But, like with me, everything still works. Naturally, the ugly bakkie attracts attention at any traffic police roadblock.
Therefore, I have grown used to running through the list of roadworthy tests – brake lights, indicators, front lights – whenever I get stopped.
Just more than a year ago, an officer went one step further, and insisted on hearing the bakkie’s hooter.
It did not work, and he wrote me a fine of R250 which, the summons said, would be cut to R125 if I paid it within 30 days.
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I tried to pay the next day – and found I could not.
It says on the back of the fine that I could pay it in cash at Checkers, Shoprite, Absa Bank, Spar, the Post Office, Motor Vehicle Registration Office or Driving Licence Testing Centre (DLTC).
Those are all lies. None of the above could take the payment.
The fine was issued by the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) and the reference number did not elicit recognition on the above institution’s computers.
So, the 30 days of clemency passed, the fine became R250 and I could still not find anybody to take the money. I stuck the summons in my wallet and forgot about it.
This month I saw it again and showed it to a work colleague who said Aarto would have sent me another summons by now. It would have, she said, come by post.
Problem is, I have not received post in the past year.
One of the many broken things in our failed state includes the Post Office, which has ceased to seek post boxes where I live in Ekurhuleni.
This week, a youngster who understands the vagaries of computers looked for my fine on the Aarto website.
And there it was – at 10am on 20 November last year I “Operated a self-propelled vehicle not equipped with a warning device that can be heard from a distance of 90 metres”.
The amount has, by now, grown to R310 and the Aarto website does not specify where I can pay it.
Here we go again. I would like to point out what Aarto was actually supposed to implement.
When mooted, the idea was that motorists would incur penalty points when caught breaking traffic laws in a dangerous fashion.
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Once you reach 12 points, your licence is suspended – a great deterrent that works very well in countries like Germany and Sweden.
This being South Africa, the government immediately saw the opportunity to milk this system. They announced an Infringement Penalty Levy of R100 per fine.
Motorists would simply be charged for getting a traffic fine.
This, the Automobile Association (AA) has pointed out, would bring R2 billion per year to the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA).
There are many new government bureaucrats after the recent elections and their wives want Range Rovers.
Luckily the Aarto administrators are so inept that the system will probably never happen.
Road safety or money-making scheme? Aarto system to impose ‘stricter rules’ on motorists