Parly committee says Aarto demerit system needs to be refined

Critics have taken issue with the proposed tribunal to arbitrate on traffic infringements, saying unlike the courts, it will presume guilt.

FILE: A traffic officer issues a fine during a blitz on Cape Town's N2 highway. Picture: Regan Thaw/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN – Parliament’s Transport Portfolio Committee has acknowledged a proposed demerit system for traffic offences needs to be refined.

The committee is reviewing submissions received from various organisations on Aarto or the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences.

Chairperson of the committee Dikeledi Magadzi says government needs to balance the need to punish traffic offenders without also punishing those who rely on public transport.

Critics have taken issue with the proposed tribunal to arbitrate on traffic infringements, saying unlike the courts, it will automatically presume guilt.

But chairperson Magadzi says it will alleviate the burden on the justice system.

“It’s not an easy issue process. It affects social issues, economic issues and that is why we believe we must give ourselves ample time.”

The demerit system Magadzi says, also still needs further refinement.

“It’s a double jeopardy - you do community service, your licence is taken, sometimes you even get a fine.”

Today, the committee is set to hear from Business Unity South Africa and the National Taxi Alliance.

RTIA ON INFRINGEMENTS

The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) said vehicle operators, like bus and taxi companies, must be held liable for the poor condition of vehicles involved in traffic infringements.

The road agency said it will be unfair to only target drivers under the new law.

At issue is who will be held responsible for an infringement caused in a vehicle that does not belong to the driver.

The RTIA’s Thabo Tsholetsane said operators must shoulder some of the blame.

“You can’t just leave the driver and leave the company. Those companies will be punished for what we call operator infringements.”

The committee must also decide what to do about drivers who can't afford to pay fines.

Tsholetsane said he does not believe they should be let off the hook.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)