South Africa’s roads are “lawless”, with drivers refusing to pay traffic fines and not turning up for court dates to answer for their offences, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said in Parliament on Tuesday.
Briefing the media ahead of his budget vote speech, Ndebele said: “Drivers simply ignore paying traffic fines and do not even bother to go to court because they know that nothing will happen to them, since their cases are not prioritised and, in many instances, withdrawn.
“Our courts are already overburdened with many criminal cases and traffic offences are not prioritised by the justice system.
“Courts are inundated with criminal cases such as rape, murder, robberies and ATM bombings. This has placed a tremendous strain on our court resources, resulting in traffic offences during 2008 only being heard in October 2010 and into 2011.
“This is further exacerbated by the lawlessness on our roads.”
Ndebele said 201 779 traffic offences were on the court roll in the Johannesburg metro police department for 2010 for offences committed during 2008. A figure of 53 809 traffic offences could not be accommodated and have court dates pending after October 2010 and into 2011. For the Cape Town metro, 132 226 traffic cases were on the court roll up to October 2010.
“Traffic offences during the current year will of necessity have to be heard during 2011/12 and into 2013,” Ndebele said.
The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO), which was implemented in Johannesburg and Tshwane on April 1 and which will be rolled out to the rest of the country during the current financial year, should “change the situation”.
“It will relieve the burden from the court system and allow the courts to focus on more urgent matters.
“It will also contribute to the more effective and efficient finalisation of road traffic cases.”
Opportunity for all stakeholders
Ndebele said the Road Traffic Management Corporation had advertised posts for extra traffic officers and that community road safety councils will soon be introduced in every municipality in the country.
“These councils will provide the opportunity to all stakeholders to participate and allow communities to identify road safety challenges and interventions in their respective localities, and to act as ambassadors for road safety,” Ndebele said.
Community members will be able to access the benefits provided by the Road Accident Fund (RAF), which is currently being overhauled, through these councils.
“The overall aim is to provide an effective benefit system which is reasonable, equitable, affordable and sustainable in the long term,” Ndebele said.
“The RAF will work closely with the Community Road Safety Councils in ensuring survivors of road collisions receive appropriate post-collision care and compensation.
“They will educate communities, especially the poor, and assist them to access the care that will help them deal with the death of loved ones and any injuries they may have sustained, and to continue leading normal lives.” — Sapa