Maverick Citizen

LAW ENFORCEMENT

Eastern Cape owed R53m in traffic fines — public transport operators in the firing line

Eastern Cape owed R53m in traffic fines — public transport operators in the firing line
The Eastern Cape government is owed R53m in outstanding traffic fines. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

Eastern Cape MEC for Transport, Xolile Nqatha, has told the provincial legislature that motorists owe R53-million in traffic fines issued over the past two years. His department is investigating ways to refuse the renewal of public transport operators’ permits for unpaid fines.

The Eastern Cape Department of Transport is considering the introduction of a system where public transport operators will have to pay their fines before their permits are renewed, the MEC for transport said in response to a question in the provincial legislature.

MEC Xolile Nqatha said the department was exploring the “implementation of a manual process that will ensure that public transport operators are required to pay their outstanding fines before their permits are renewed”.

He said they were also looking at offering an amnesty period for outstanding licence fees where these will be discounted.

The Sarah Baartman District Municipality, which includes parts of the Karoo and the Sunshine Coast, has the most unpaid fines – totalling R17.3-million – followed by the Amathole District in the central part of the province, at R10.1-million. Outstanding fines in the OR Tambo District, including Mthatha and Port St Johns, come to R3.6-million.

The province’s two metros, Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City, were not mentioned as having any outstanding traffic fines.

Nqatha said the department was also using monthly “warrant buses” to act on arrest warrants for unpaid fines, but will also begin to run awareness campaigns at shopping malls, taxi ranks and on social media.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Auditor-General calls on Eastern Cape municipal leaders to promote transparency and accountability

He said the province was also exploring ways to make it easier for people to pay their fines. This will include the introduction of a website to allow people to do so.

The Democratic Alliance’s spokesperson for transport in the province, Marshall von Buchenrohder, said the continuous failure by the department to collect outstanding revenues is jeopardising much-needed services in the province.

“With an additional R53-million, the Department of Transport could do the following: Employ additional traffic officers to implement the much-needed 24-hour traffic law enforcement fully. Revenue from fines could bring the department closer to making this a reality. Pay overtime to law enforcement offices. Purchase additional vehicles for law enforcement,” he said. DM

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