STATEMENT BY MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER FOR SAFETY AND SECURITY; AND SOCIAL SERVICES, ALDERMAN JP SMITH
This morning, 9 May 2017, I accompanied Cape Town Traffic Services on the latest instalment of Operation Reclaim – a dedicated enforcement initiative designed to track down motorists with outstanding warrants.
Within a few hours officers had served 56 warrants, arrested 11 people and released 13 others on a warning at the intersection of Jakes Gerwel Drive and Oliver Tambo Drive. The monetary value of these warrants was R97 500.
The overall statistics reflect a more comprehensive picture, which is that Cape Town Traffic Services served 23 409 warrants and made 22 188 warrant-related arrests in the first quarter of this year. This is an increase from the same period in 2016, when they served 20 025 warrants and made 19 069 arrests.
Operation Reclaim is responsible for on average 95% of the warrants served and arrests executed. The Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) unit has played a huge role in this success. They have five vehicles fitted with cameras that are able to scan number plates and identify vehicles with outstanding warrants of arrest.Ultimately, it means that the chickens are coming home to roost for more and more motorists who have been ignoring traffic fines and summonses for years, believing that they won’t get caught.
The statistics prove otherwise, so a word of advice to scofflaws to do the right thing and deal with their fines timeously, or abide by the law and avoid being fined in the first place.
Many people hold the view that the City uses traffic fines to milk road users for revenue or that we zone in on ‘soft targets’ and ignore the real criminals.
The law is the law and is applied equally to all. There are also checks and balances in place that allow motorists to challenge fines issued or have these reduced. But to simply do nothing about it in the hope that it will go away is ill-advised, given our growing success in tracking down warrant evaders.
I also remind the public that the Admin Mark introduced several years ago means that a motorist with outstanding warrants is unable to transact on the eNatis system which means they cannot renew their driver’s licence or vehicle licence, among others.
In addition, we have also established an integrated K78 Roadblock Unit to help improve the execution of warrants and we have lobbied for new legislation to ensure that vehicle owners and drivers have to provide proof of address when renewing licences so that we can serve summonses and warrants.
The City of Cape Town is also paying for more staff and resources to help address the inadequate capacity in the traffic courts which are run by National Government, which has resulted in massive backlogs in the signing and execution of warrants. Little wonder that so many motorists could not be bothered to pay their fines. However, the numbers indicate that the tide is turning and we will continue our efforts to ensure greater accountability from road users.