The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) believes the proposed changes to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Amendment Bill are impractical, irrational and legally flawed.
The Bill, which was passed by the National Assembly in September 2017, is currently under consideration by Parliament.
The Bill links e-toll defaulters to the traffic fines management system, by making the failure to pay e-tolls a failure to obey road signs that list the toll charges.
Outa transport portfolio manager Rudie Heyneke said in a statement on Thursday that the Legislature was trying to bully motorists into paying e-tolls.
The Bill also seeks to move the service of notifications of traffic infringements to electronic format.
“This is not practical. There may be millions of motorists who are not linked to the Internet or electronic services and the scheme will have to default to serving fines to physical addresses,” he noted.
Heyneke said some aspects of the Bill have removed the requirement to serve notifications by registered mail; however, all changes to a driver’s demerit points must still be served this way, which would be a huge expense, negating one of the key motivations for the amendment.
“The administration of the Bill falls under the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) and there are questions about the RTIA’s financial sustainability, as its operational budget will be generated from a portion of the fines and administration fees it collects.”
Heynecke said the RTIA requires motorists to generate infringements – and thus revenue – to survive, which contradicts the Bill’s purpose of enhancing road safety.
Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) chairperson Howard Dembovsky, meanwhile, said the Bill seeks to remove the right of an alleged infringer to elect to be tried in court and, in so doing, to be afforded their constitutional right to a fair trial.
“As a result, issuing authorities would never have to prove their allegations, if the Bill is signed into law.”
JPSA maintains that, despite the Aarto Amendment Bill reportedly having been scrutinised and certified by the State law advisers, it will fail to pass constitutional and other legal muster if it is signed into law.
“The e-tolls issue is a separate, but interlinked issue and is yet to be resolved,” he added.
Outa has made a written submission to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and given input at recent NCOP public hearings, and will continue to engage with the authorities on the Bill.
“We want this law to be workable, practical, unchallengeable and to meet the crucial objective of improving road safety,” Heyneke said.