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Thanks in part to automatic number plate recognition technology, the City of Cape Town served over 67 000 warrants in nine months this year. Read more below:

The City of Cape Town’s Traffic Service is pleased to report that a total of 67 051 warrants have been served between 1 January and 30 September 2016. These warrants have a total value of R75 541 415.

A large number of these executed warrants have come as a result of the City’s gradual investment in automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology, with 20 438 warrants being served this year so far due to this initiative. The remaining warrants were either served via the vehicle licensing process (whereby licences cannot be renewed if there are outstanding warrants against the licence-holder) or during door-to-door operations. ANPR technology has also led to the arrest of 2 841 motorists.

‘The execution of warrants is an essential component of traffic enforcement. There are still a significant number of motorists who believe that they can simply ignore their fines and that they will be able to escape the consequences of their illegal behaviour. Unless these residents feel it in their pockets and are forced to appear in front of a magistrate, it is likely that their wilful disregard of traffic regulations and reckless endangerment of other motorists will continue.‘This investment forms part of the City’s move towards more intelligence-driven policing, also seen with our adoption of ShotSpotter technology. ANPR technology can help us maximise our resources in that it allows officers to quickly identify when a motorist has outstanding warrants and take action against them. Previously, these outstanding warrants would have been much more difficult to detect,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

There is a common misconception around the serving of warrants, which often leads to residents falling foul of the law. Traffic enforcement agencies generally issue two types of fine: the Section 341 notice and the Section 56 notice. A Section 341 notice is issued in circumstances where it is not evident who the driver is – for instance a parking ticket or an offence captured by means of a camera. For such offences, vehicle owners receive fines in the post. If the fine is not paid, a summons follows with a date to appear in court. Section 56 notices are issued where an enforcement officer physically stops a motorist and issues the fine. Such notices are primarily used for moving violations that are witnessed by the officer. The Section 56 notice has the option of a fine which, if not paid, is an automatic written notice to appear in court on a date stipulated on the fine. Vehicle owners do not receive notices in the post for Section 56 notices.

‘Some residents are, however, under the misguided impression that they should wait on a follow-up in the post after they have been issued with a Section 56 notice and so do not take the required action. There have been instances where they are then stopped at a roadblock or by a member of our ANPR Unit and discover that there is a warrant out for their arrest. Not only is there the very real risk of arrest and time in a holding cell, but this also means that we are dealing with a pile of warrants that could have been avoided if only the motorist had realised that the physical fine that was issued was, in fact, their notice to pay.

‘We therefore advise all residents who have received Section 56 notices but do not want to make a representation in court to contest their fines to please pay them promptly to avoid more serious consequences,’ said Alderman Smith.

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