The government will be able to introduce a demerit point system for driving licenses despite the fact that the Administrative Arbitration of Traffic Offenses (Aarto) Act and the Aarto Amendment Act have been declared unconstitutional and invalid in a judgment delivered last week by the High Court in Pretoria.
Read: Aarto and Aarto Amendment Acts Declared Unconstitutional
The Automobile Association (AA) and the Undoing Tax Abuse Organization (Outa) agree.
However, Outa believes that a demerit point system will only work if the underlying administrative systems that make it work, such as the National Traffic Information System (Natis) and the post office, are working properly. effective and efficient manner.
The AA reiterated its position on Friday that traffic fines should be dealt with in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Act, with some legislative changes to protect motorists in cases where issuing fines and serving summons are not carried out in accordance with the law.
“A demerit point system, which is one of Aarto’s keystones, could be implemented as part of the court process,” he said.
“This is how demerit points have been implemented in other parts of the world for half a century or more.
“The AA itself called for such a system as early as 1963 and we would be willing to work with the government to help create it.”
The local government factor
Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage said immediately after Thursday’s High Court judgment that Outa believed the implementation of a single national system for the administration of traffic offenses in South Africa, as planned by the Aarto laws, was “dead in the water” because the system usurps the powers of local government.
Read: Aarto is “dead in the water” – Outa
Duvenage said Friday that Outa believed a demerit point system could only be implemented if a law was passed or if Aarto allowed municipalities to manage their traffic fines — but their traffic fine systems are required “to speak to a national demerit point system” to allow bad driving to be picked up across the country, not just in one region.
However, Duvenage said the involvement of municipalities in providing traffic fine information to a national demerit point system requires the buy-in and cooperation of municipalities to ensure the national government does not usurp their power.
Duvenage thinks the national government could force municipalities to provide their traffic fine information to a national system, as it would not interfere with local government operations.
But Duvenage said the biggest problem to solve when implementing a national demerit point system is fixing the underlying administrative systems that will make it work.
Another problem is the dysfunction of many municipalities and their ability to accurately and consistently provide their traffic fine information to a national system.
SA ‘not a connected country’
“Aarto was going to fail because the Natis is inaccurate… [and] because you can’t just rely on electronic communication,” Duvenage said.
“You have to rely on a postal system because a lot of people are not connected to the internet. It’s the same thing with electronic tolls.
“You can have all the brilliant ideas, but they can’t work because your administration, your postal services, are down in this country. They crash the system before it starts.
Duvenage added that Natis is a mess and that for a demerit system to work, Natis must be live and must immediately transfer ownership of a vehicle to prevent a previous owner from continuing to receive fines months after the sale of his vehicle.
He said serving infringement notices correctly on vehicle owners was key to giving owners the chance to rebut a fine in cases where, for example, someone cloned their license plate. vehicle.
“You can’t have people affected by inefficient systems, not because they were inefficient, but because the state didn’t support everyone in that space. This is the problem.
“Keep in mind that we are not a connected country. We are not Australia.
“We have a lot of poor people who drive cars, who need licenses but don’t have an internet account or an email address,” Duvenage said.
“Take care of them. The only way to satisfy them is to go through the postal service and [you] need an efficient post office.
Justice Annali Basson issued an order in the Pretoria High Court on Thursday declaring both the Aarto Act and the Aarto Amendment Act unconstitutional and invalid.
Judge Basson said that the Constitutional Court has, in a number of judgments, clarified that the executive power vested exclusively in municipalities and the provincial government cannot be encroached upon by national legislation.
It was argued on behalf of the Minister for Transport that if the court granted the relief sought by Outa, the court should suspend the declaration of invalidity for 24 months to allow parliament to rectify the invalidity.
But Judge Basson pointed out that what would remain – once the provisions relating to provincial roads or provincial traffic offenses or any provision relating to violations of municipal road, traffic or parking by-laws were removed – would not be able to give effect to the main purpose of the Statute, which is to create a single national system for the administrative enforcement of road traffic laws.
The Ministry of Transport said Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula will be guided by legal advice on whether to appeal the judgment or not.
The AA said on Friday that the judgment upholds its stated position for many years that the Aarto Act was drafted without sufficient care, was unworkable, focused on raising revenue rather than promoting road safety and does not had done nothing to address the shocking death rate on the roads in South Africa. .
“Core problem” not taken into account
“Within months of the 2008 launch of the Aarto pilot project in the Johannesburg and Tshwane metros, the shortcomings of the law became evident in practice,” he said.
“Attempts to remedy these shortcomings have only created new problems and now a court has found that the Department for Transport, when drafting Aarto, failed to consider the fundamental question of whether the system had passed the constitutional test.
The AA added that Aarto had been sanctioned in 1998 and his design had started much earlier, but the High Court found that the shortcomings could not be corrected.
“After nearly a quarter of a century of failures, the government would be wise to concede defeat,” he said.
Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage spoke to Fifi Peters after the High Court victory on Thursday: