The Eastern Cape lost out on potential revenue of R93.3-million from traffic fines and warrants in the last two financial years. According to a reply to a legislature question I asked Transport MEC Weziwe Tikana, the back office in East London, where all traffic fines and district warrants are processed, is operating on an ad hoc basis with no permanent staff members.
The DA believes that, in our current economic climate, it is important to ensure that any prospective revenue for the province is efficiently managed.
The purpose of the back office is to ensure that fines are issued within the regulatory time frames and to administer outstanding warrants. Warrants have to be delivered in person.
According to the reply, the potential value of fines that should have been processed for the 2016-17 financial year was R61.9-million. For the previous financial year, the potential value totalled R31.4-million.
The correct management of the revenue received from fines could allow the Department of Transport to employ the necessary people to operate the back office instead of transferring staff members from other stations. Furthermore, it is important that the province makes moves to implement a 24-hour traffic law enforcement service. Revenue received from fines could bring the department closer to making this a reality.
I have written to MEC Tikana and the chairperson of the legislature’s portfolio committee on Transport, Ntombizodwa Xhanti, to ensure that the necessary personnel is employed to efficiently utilise the back office. An appropriately staffed back office will be able to administer the collection of the outstanding revenue swiftly and optimally. Allowing fines to accumulate, renders redundant the hard work of the officers when they patrol the roads and issue fines. The back office first needs to correct its internal personnel issues by appointing the required number of officers before it considers outsourcing debt collection services.
It is necessary for the MEC to ensure that the back office complies with the legal regulations when issuing warrants and fines, to avoid them being consequently withdrawn in a court of law. It would be wise for the Department of Transport to consider a grace period whereby the offender can approach a magistrate to acknowledge the transgression and agree to pay half of the fine.
Marshall von Buchenroder
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