News / South Africa

Antoinette Slabbert
2 minute read
10 Apr 2017
6:30 am

Traffic fines agency appeals judgment scrapping millions of fines

Antoinette Slabbert

The RTIA fears opening a 'Pandora's box' that will undermine the administration of justice.

Traffic Officers.

The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) – tasked with administering traffic fines – will on April 20 ask leave to appeal a court judgment that it says “raises extremely important issues – not only of a legal nature but, indeed, of practical consideration too”.

In its application for leave to appeal an earlier high court judgment – in favour of fines administrator Fines4U – the RTIA says the judgment, “if permitted to stand, will open up a Pandora’s box, which, in turn, will invite a plethora of litigation”.

Judge Bill Prinsloo in February had ordered hundreds of fines before the court and issued to Fines4U client Audi Johannesburg, to be set aside due to the RTIA’s biased, irrational and unauthorised rejection of representations that Fines4U had made to it to have the fines cancelled.

Fines4U owner Cornelia van Niekerk then said the same failures applied to millions of traffic fines issued in Johannesburg and Pretoria since 2008.

She called on the RTIA to cancel all fines affected by the same defects. In its application for leave to appeal, the RTIA does not spell out the feared practical effects of the ruling.

Instead, in a move it admits is “somewhat unorthodox”, it argues that the consequences of the judgment will be highly prejudicial not only to the RTIA and road traffic enforcement specifically, but indeed “to the broader interests inherent in the administration of justice more generally”.

The RTIA questions the court’s finding that the decisions were reviewable on the basis of bias and irrationality, and relies on its internal operating manual.

The manual limits challenges to the merits of the alleged traffic infringement, not the procedure followed.

However, Prinsloo ruled that this provision in the manual contradicted the Act. The RTIA admits that it did not follow the procedures described in the Act. But it questions the remedy of having the decisions set aside on the grounds of practicality.

The RTIA argues that there is no need to set aside the fines since it had already given an undertaking that it would not issue enforcement orders.

It further states that the court did not take into account that the National Contravention Register does not provide for fines to be removed without trace.