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Fikile Mbalula studying ruling declaring Aarto unconstitutional

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has been dealt a blow after the High Court, Pretoria, declared the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences and Amendment Acts unconstitutional and invalid. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has been dealt a blow after the High Court, Pretoria, declared the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences and Amendment Acts unconstitutional and invalid. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 13, 2022

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Cape Town – Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula is studying the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, ruling that declared the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) and Amendment Acts unconstitutional and invalid.

On Thursday, Judge Annali Basson found both the Aarto Act of 1998 and Aarto Amendment Act of 2019 unconstitutional and invalid.

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The statutes’ aim was to create a single national system of road traffic regulation and regulate every aspect of road traffic.

However, in July 2020 non-profit organisation, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), approached the high court to have the 1998 act and its 2019 amendments declared unconstitutional and invalid arguing that national government through Parliament had no legislative competence to legislate matters relating to provincial roads or traffic or in relation to parking and municipal roads.

In its court papers, Outa said Aarto unlawfully intruded on the exclusive legislative competence of provinces by creating the single system and that it had constitutional inconsistencies.

Outa wanted the Aarto act and its amendment declared unconstitutional and set aside as a whole immediately.

Judge Basson agreed with Outa.

”The Aarto and amendment acts unlawfully intrude upon the exclusive executive and legislative competence of the local and provincial government, respectively, and as such the two acts are unconstitutional,” she ruled.

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In response to the judgment, Mbalula said he noted Judge Basson’s decision and that he was studying it and will be guided by legal advice on whether to appeal or not.

Outa said Aarto in its current format does nothing to improve road safety nor does it reduce the scourge of road fatalities in the country.

The DA said the creation of the quasi-judicial Road Traffic Infringement Agency whose mandate was to adjudicate traffic offences and decide whether an offender can approach a court of law was an obvious violation of sections 34 and 35 of the Constitution, which afford everyone the right to have a fair trial and to have dispute resolved in a public hearing before a court of law.

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The Freedom Front Plus said Judge Basson’s ruling raised another question on whether motorists who paid Aarto fines are now entitled to reclaim the funds.

”Apart from the possibility that the government may appeal the ruling, this question that holds serious financial consequences for the government will keep looming in the background,” the party said.

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