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Aarto system: 'Far too many road users in SA behave like there are no consequences for their actions'

The court has found that the Aarto and amendment acts unlawfully intruded upon the exclusive executive and legislative competence of the local and provincial governments, respectively. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency

The court has found that the Aarto and amendment acts unlawfully intruded upon the exclusive executive and legislative competence of the local and provincial governments, respectively. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency

Published Jan 17, 2022

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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town welcomed the Pretoria High Court ruling declaring the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto), and its amendments invalid and unconstitutional.

Safety and Security mayco member JP Smith said the City had consistently expressed its concerns around Aarto, which took more than two decades to implement – revolving around two main points.

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“The fact that it was in conflict with the local government mandate around traffic enforcement, and around its functionality and that it would be ineffective in curbing road deaths,” Smith said.

He said in last week's ruling, the court validated their concern when it ruled that the Aarto legislation "unlawfully intrudes upon the executive and legislative competence of local and provincial governments”.

Smith said while the City agreed that road safety required a more determined approach, the Aarto system was not the solution.

"Far too many road users in South Africa behave like there are no consequences for their actions. Let us amend and strengthen existing provisions to curb the lawlessness and fatalities," he said.

Smith said to that end, they would advocate for speedier prosecutions for serious driving offences, more significant sentences and permanent impoundment of vehicles used in serious driving offences, as a start.

The court found that the Aarto and amendment acts unlawfully intruded upon the exclusive executive and legislative competence of the local and provincial governments respectively and as such, the two Acts were unconstitutional.

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It also disagreed with Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula's contention that any declaration of invalidity should be suspended for 24 months while Parliament rectified the acts.

Mbalula noted the judgment saying he was studying it and would be guided by legal advice on whether to appeal the judgement or not.

The Automobile Association (AA) said the judgment vindicated its position stating over many years that the Aarto Act was drafted without sufficient care.

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"As early as a few months after the 2008 launch of the Aarto pilot project in the Johannesburg and Tshwane metros, the shortcomings of the act became clear in practise."

They said attempts to rectify those shortcomings only created further issues, and now a court has found that the Department of Transport, in drafting Aarto did not consider the fundamental issue of whether the system passed constitutional muster.

The AA said there was no evidence that the Aarto pilot project has saved a single life. It said that no purpose could be served by going back to the drawing board.

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