JPSA's inputs on the AARTO Amendment Bill

On Wednesday 31 August 2016, JPSA submitted its submission on the AARTO Amendment Bill, 2015 to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport as follows:

The Chairperson
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport
Parliament of South Africa
Cape Town

BY EMAIL TO:         vcarelse@parliament.gov.za

 

Your Ref: Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Amendment Bill [B38-15]
Our Ref: AARTO Amendment Bill, 2015

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Dear Madam,

RE: ADMINISTRATIVE ADJUDICATION OF ROAD TRAFFIC OFFENCES (AARTO) AMENDMENT BILL, 2015 – SUBMISSION BY JPSA

Introduction

Justice Project South Africa (NPC) (hereinafter referred to as “JPSA”) has recently become aware of the fact that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport is seeking inputs from the public and/or interested parties with respect to the AARTO Amendment Bill, 2015.

JPSA is, and has been one of those interested parties since shortly after the initial promulgation of the AARTO Act in the Cities of Johannesburg and Tshwane. It was also invited to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding/Agreement with what is currently called the Road Traffic Infringement Agency in 2014; in the interests of advancing the AARTO Act, and which agreement was never ratified due to the Agency failing to finalise it.

We therefore feel that it is not only necessary for us to make this submission on behalf of our members, but in the wider public interest and the interest of road safety in general.

Due to the fact that the AARTO Act and its Regulations does not constitute some theoretical, proposed legislation, our submission shall not be limited to the few proposed amendments contained in the Bill, but shall delve into the overall constitutionality of the AARTO Act and examine just some of the abuses which have arisen out of its experimental implementation.

We feel that this is absolutely necessary in order to not only make sense of our inputs, but to actively attempt to prevent the further potential harm which will most certainly arise if these issues are not addressed prior to the unreasonably long-delayed national roll-out of a points-demerit system for South Africa.

We therefore respectfully submit that the prolixity of our submission is strictly necessary and state that we are of the sincere hope that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport will take very seriously what is recorded herein and more importantly, ensure that the necessary interventions occur without further delay.

Whilst we do not wish this to be construed in any way as constituting a threat, we feel it necessary to point out that JPSA has tired of the disingenuous behaviour which has been exhibited towards it by the authorities when trying to address their wanton misapplication of the provisions of the AARTO Act and therefore, we will not hesitate to approach the Court in order to address issues which the authorities are apparently unwilling to address on a reasonable and/or diplomatic level.

This is evidenced by the fact that, after being blindly ignored by the Registrar and the Agency, as well as two issuing authorities and the Minister of Transport, JPSA has approached the Pretoria High Court under case number 30665/2016, seeking, inter alia a declaratory order with respect to the term “registered mail”, which is contained in the AARTO Act but is undefined in law.

It is submitted that it should not be necessary for JPSA to approach the Courts over matters which could easily be resolved and/or rectified through reasonable interaction with one another and that the wanton waste of taxpayers’ money by State entities in attempting to defend the indefensible is irresponsible at best. Just because these State entities have access to the public purse should not mean that they abuse it and decide to test our resolve in the hope that they can out-lawyer us.

As will become apparent in this document, the service of AARTO infringement notices and other documents is merely the starting point in a long string of other issues surrounding the AARTO Act and its practical implementation, however it is the very foundation upon which all other processes follow.

Submissions relating to the AARTO Amendment Bill, 2015 itself

After having made an extensive submission on the AARTO Amendment Bill which was published for public comment in 2013, JPSA has noted the resultant proposed amendments contained in the AARTO Amendment Bill, 2015 published at the SA Government website on 30 November 2015 and has the following submissions to make thereon:

Clause 1 - Definitions

Clause 1(a)

We have no objection or comments relating to the proposed amendment of the term “acceptable identification” being amended as proposed.

Clauses 1(b) and (c)

As previously stated in our 2013 submission, it is our view that the renaming of the “agency” to “Authority” is not only pointless, but stands to introduce a further element of confusion into the Act.

The term “issuing authority” is undefined in the Act and this is problematic for a number of reasons, not least of which is the confusion that arises when referring to the “issuing authority” on the one hand and referring to the “Authority” in the same sentence. While it may be argued that by simply inserting a definition for the “issuing authority”, this problem will be addressed, it is our view that it will not.

It is submitted that whether this entity is called “the Agency” or “the Authority” is neither here nor there and wanting to change it represents little more than it wanting to sound more impressive, important and/or authoritative. This really isn’t necessary.

Furthermore, the Agency recently “relaunched its brand” to great fanfare and with no expense spared, and in doing so, redesigned its logo and branding of inter alia vehicles and stationary. If it now gets renamed, further monies will be wasted for nothing more than this exhibition of foolish pride.

 It is therefore our recommendation that name of the Agency be left as is.

Clause 1 (d)

We have a significant issue with the insertion of the definition “electronic service” into the AARTO Act, not only because of the fact that we have fundamental objections to the proposed loose methods of service, but because of the fact that such amendments need to be carefully considered in the broader context of the state of the Law itself in South Africa.

Whilst we do not have a fundamental issue with the “modernisation” of methods of service, the motivation and reasoning behind this move on the part of Department of Transport, the Agency and the issuing authorities has nothing to do with modernising anything, but is rather premised upon cost savings and profitability motivations.

This is evidenced by the so-called “secret” presentation the Department of Transport made to this very committee in May this year wherein it was blatantly stated that the objective thereof was to save money and increase revenues for the issuing authorities [and the Agency].