The Committee met to discuss the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Amendment Bill. It was noted that only one written submission had been received, and it was resolved that an extension of time for submissions would be announced, with individuals and organisations encouraged to respond. The Department had received some responses to the draft, and Members asked to be apprised of those comments and how they were being dealt with.
The CEO of the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) summarised the questions asked by Members at the last meeting on the Bill, which was on 20 May, and provided responses. He highlighted that the main objective of the Bill was to enhance administrative justice and to provide a better, more effective and more certain system for adjudication and enforcement of road traffic offences. The Department had taken into consideration the difficulties to date, and had attempted to come up with a system that would make service of notices more effective and certain. Electronic means would be used, and more pay points and options would be presented to make it easier for the public to comply. The overall aim of all traffic legislation changes was to enhance and increase road safety, which would in part be achieved by better communication with road users. Increased time frames were being proposed to align with the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act. Questions asked by Members had related to the name changes, delivery of notices, and licensing requirements. Further questions asked about the alignment and use of the AARTO and the Criminal Procedure Act.
The Department noted that, although it was not included in the current Bill, the Department was giving consideration to introducing a system similar to that used in Australia and some USA states, where a person, even after passing a driving test, would still be regarded as a probationer and have to drive supervised under, for instance, adverse weather conditions, being regarded as reaching full competence only after a certain period. It was explained how notices would be sent and monitored, with the electronic communication systems already in place to allow for tracking of notices, as well as for scanning of documents in reply. The RTIA emphasised that the AARTO and Criminal Procedure Act were complementary, and this Bill would clarify that infringements and related notices would be dealt with under AARTO and the more serious offences (such as accidents that endangered life) under the CPA. The Department was aware that criminal offences could increase because of suspension of licenses but emphasised again that the overall aim was compliance, with the aim of increasing road safety, and assured Members that other departments would be involved and their input considered. It intended to try to introduce a National Day for Road Safety, would employ citizens to act as road marshalls at schools, develop road safety ambassadors and increase communication to rural areas.
The Parliamentary Legal Services presented the one written submission on the Bill. Some comments did not directly relate to provisions in the Bill, and there was not clarity on suggestions on the definition of infringement, since it had already taken into account the points raised. However, the concerns about the SANParks area would be further considered. Although there were submissions on the definition of “issuing authority” this was not in the Bill, but in the Act and no changes were being proposed. There were suggestions around immobilising motor vehicles under controlled conditions, in relation to clause 7, and this would be considered and a report back given by the Department.
Members discussed the Third Term Committee Programme and resolved that workshops would be held during Committee Week with the Department and PRASA. A petition would be circulated that the Committee was being asked to consider.
The Committee adopted minutes of meetings between 19 April and 17 May. The minutes of the meeting on 12 April were sent back for amendment.
Apologies were noted from the Minister of Transport, Ms Dipuo Peters and Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, and from some Members.
Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Amendment Bill
The Chairperson noted that the Committee would try to accommodate those who had not yet sent in their written submissions of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Amendment Bill (the Bill).
Advocate Mdu Masombuka, Chief Director: Legal Services, Department of Transport apologised that Acting Director General Mr Hlabisa was unable to attend the meeting. He mentioned that the Department of Transport (DoT or the Department) had thought that the Committee would be considering written submissions, but none had been received. A presentation had already been given by the Department on the Bill, and the Department had received some questions, and detailed answers had been prepared, which he suggested could be discussed by the Committee if Members so wished.
Mr G Radebe (ANC) suggested that the deadline for written submissions be extended, since the Committee had received only one submission. He felt it was important for the public to have a chance to become involved and it would be useful for the Committee to receive as many submissions as possible. He suggested that another announcement be made through different modes of communication, such as radio, to get further public input.
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) asked whether the Portfolio Committee would be briefed on the public comments received since about the amendment of the Bill was announced.
Mr C Hunsinger (DA) agreed with his colleagues. He felt that the previous presentation was rushed and that many points were not clear, and questions in the previous meeting remained unanswered. He also said that there was not enough engagement on the experimental phase of the AARTO. He asked about the Minister’s engagement and how the variety of comments had been dealt with.
Mr M Sibande (ANC) re-emphasised that it was important to ensure that everyone was informed about the changes that would take place. He said that the Committee should work together with the Departmental officers in order to ensure that the rules are implemented. He agreed with the suggestion that the date for written submissions should be extended, with the condition that the committee members participated as well.
The Chairperson agreed on the date extension for written submissions. She noted that the presentation by the Department had been made before the Parliamentary recess and asked what the final date should be for submissions, and when discussions on the AARTO should resume. The Department would need to present the issues that had been dealt with as well as those that have arisen since the amendment was published. She agreed that the Committee may need to use a different communication strategy for broader public submissions. She suggested that the Department present its responses to the issues that were raised by Members in the previous meeting.
Mr Japh Chuwe, Chief Executive Officer CEO, Road Traffic Infringement Agency, set out some answers to the questions submitted to the Department, as follows:
- Mr M De Freitas (DA) had asked what the main objective of the Bill was, and whether the Act was being amended in order to save money or to effect justice.
Mr Chuwe reassured the Committee that the Bill was intended to effect justice in dealing with traffic offences.
- Mr De Freitas had also asked how the Bill would affect the issue of warrants.
- Mr De Freitas also asked why the name was changed from National Contraventions Register (NCR) to National (Road Traffic) Offences Register (NOR) and why “Agency” was being changed to “Authority”.
Mr Chuwe noted that responses had been provided in the documents the Portfolio Committee had received after the previous meeting.
The Department had taken into consideration the processes regarding AARTO notices through professional services or registered names. The challenge had been in delivering the notices within the given time frame. Given the technological advancements, more emphasis would now be placed on delivering notices through electronic means. He explained that notices would be created from the moment non-compliance was detected on the road, and this would be delivered to the name registered on the vehicle. Other significant challenges faced by the South African Post Office had an impact on the decision to amend the legislation. When a notice is received by the registered person the Department would be able to trace this more effectively. The Department highlighted that before any service of demands could take place there had to be certainty about the delivery of the original infringement notice. The issue of warrants currently required Sheriffs' involvement, but this Bill would try to eliminate that requirement or put in place some system that answered the lessons learned during the testing phase.
The change of names was intended to align the legislation better. The main purpose of the Bill was to ensure that the legislation was being properly enforced.
- Seven questions had been asked by Mr Hunsinger, but responses to all seven had been given by email, so that the Department did not intend to go into detail. However, in brief, he could say that the Department was trying to make compliance easier and to encourage road safety. 3 366 payment platforms were introduced. This number could increase. Retail stores were a significant target for pay points as payments could be made while people were shopping for groceries. Other proactive measures ensured that independent and easily-reachable kiosks would be introduced so that citizens would be able to comply with the Act. The public would also have the opportunity to exercise options to be introduced by regulations, such as being able to scan documents if they wished to challenge the infringement notice. The Department had engaged with the Government Employee Medical Scheme as well as the Department of Social Development and the Department of Home Affairs, so that the government would be in a position to provide excellent services to the local community and to ensure an increased number of One Stop Service points. He highlighted once more that it would be necessary to ensure that the correct person received the infringement notice within the 40 day period that was set for the administrative framework.
Another intervention, which may be included via the National Road Traffic Act rather than via the ARRTO include had to do with the issuing of licenses. South Africa was still using the K53 method which subjects a learner driver to a 45 minute driving test under idealistic conditions, and once passed, the learner would receive a license and be confirmed as a fully competent driver. Another proposal to increase road safety was through the use of a “probationary license”. This was used in Florida and Australia, for instance, so that a driver who had passed the first stage of the licence would still need to drive under supervision in harsh conditions, such as heavy weather. A full licence would be issued after this, but only after another five years would a driver be confirmed as fully competent. . Although Members had been concerned about frameworks from developed countries being adopted into South Africa, which was a developing country Mr Chuwe wanted to clarify that any frameworks would be carefully adjusted to suit the systems locally. He emphasized that there was an urgent need to increase road safety. In order to fully interact with the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, an increased time frame from 32 days to 90 days was proposed.
Overall, Mr Chuwe emphasised that the end goal of the AARTO was to change the behaviour of road users in order to positively influence road safety. The Department of Transport intended to put in place restrictions to achieve this end, but would also try to ensure sufficient flexibility to make it easier for road users to comply and for the provisions to be properly enforced.
- Mr Radebe had asked how to ensure that there was proof of delivery.
In response, Mr Chuwe said that every notice that would be sent would be monitored through an electronic system, which would also notify the sender that the message has been delivered and read. If a person wanted to claim that there was no service of notice, the system would be able to show whether or not the message was received on that day, whether it had been read, and the method of delivery. The technology was already available to electronically confirm the validity of the notice.
- Mr Radebe also asked about the relationship between the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) and AARTO. Mr Radebe asked if South Africa was not going to be “creating more criminals” through the AARTO demerit point system.
Mr Chuwe noted that the relationship between the AARTO and the CPA was complementary, as both dealt with non-compliant behaviour. The difference lay in whether the matter would be considered as an infringement or an offence. An offence was more serious than an infringement, in the sense that an offence dealt with those who endangered the life of others, for instance in an accident that resulted in serious injuries. That would be dealt with under the Criminal Procedure Act. The AARTO dealt with infringement notices.
To answer the question about increasing criminal offences, the Department had taken into consideration the increased number of suspended licenses that could take place from the demerit system; it intended to try to persuade people to comply. This matter would be carefully and cautiously considered. Different departments and stakeholders had also sent comments.
Mr Chuwe also mentioned the different departments that would be responsible for ensuring that AARTO compliance strategies could be effective. The Department would be cautious about the concerns that were raised by Mr L Ramatlakane.
- A question asked was how the Department would prevent non-compliance or infringements.
Mr Chuwe said that there had been strategies already put in place, such as rehabilitation programmes and mass community-based processes, such as the One Million Signature campaign, which hoped to declare a Day of National Road Safety. This would not be a public holiday but the day would build awareness of the importance of road safety. Part of this would be an enterprise development effort, which sought to establish more active direct engagement. Unemployed citizens would take the role of a road marshall and help young children cross the street on their way to school. Marshalls would be deployed in primary schools, high schools and community halls to give lectures on road safety. The idea was to create “road safety ambassadors” that would benefit the road safety campaign in the years to follow. Since one of the challenges had been service delivery in rural areas, part of this programme would involve community members delivering messages directly to the homesteads that do not have postal addresses. The legacy build through this programme would be a very exciting process for the Department. The main focus would remain on ensuring that even those living in rural areas would receive the same service delivery as those in urban areas.
Mr Chuwe ended by urging the Committee to take into consideration the Annual Performance Plan as well as the Department of Transport’s strategic plan, when deciding on the extended dates for the written and oral submissions. He also reminded the Committee to bear the financial year ends in mind.
He thanked the Committee for its support and efforts throughout the amendment process. Ideally, 1 July would be the best date to roll out the AARTO Bill, but it would be best to have everything finalised for the Department's new financial year of 1 April. If this could not be done, he asked that at least the date of 1 July should be targeted. However, stakeholders would also need to be informed well ahead of time in order for them to prepare for new procedures.
The Chairperson suggested that the deadline for oral and written submissions should be extended to 31 August, which would take into consideration the challenges raised by Mr Chuwe. She also urged Mr T Mulaudzi (EFF) to encourage submissions from his party.
Mr Radebe supported the submission deadline extension and emphasised the need to expand the modes of communication. Mr Ramatlakane and Hunsinger were also happy with the extension.
AARTO Amendment Bill: Written submissions: Committee deliberations
Advocate Noluthando Mpikashe, Parliamentary Legal Services, noted that one written submission had been sent to the Committee Secretary, from Alta Swanepoel and Associates. She took the Committee through the letter, which made recommendations on different clauses.
For Clause 1, the submission suggested that the definition of infringement should be extended to cover the road transport legislation in the amendment Bill. However, Adv Mpikashe said that the point being made was not clear and no other substantive information was included. The Bill already seemed to cover the points put forward, so she was not sure that the Committee could glean much from this suggestion.
Further submissions were being made on the definition of “issuing authority” but this definition was in the Act, and not in the Bill.
In respect of clause 7, the submission suggested immobilising motor vehicles, under controlled conditions, for those found driving without licenses or a valid motor disc. Adv Mpikashe suggested that the Department should consider the legal implications of the suggestions, as this was essentially a policy matter.
Mr Hunsinger wanted to clarify whether the current definition of “infringement” covered the suggested additions made by Alta Swanepoel and Associates.
Mr Chuwe asked that the Committee should in future forward all written submissions timeously to the Department, so that the Department could prepare for the responses.
The Chairperson mentioned that only a justice project had indicated its interest in making oral submissions.
Mr Thabo Tsholetsane, Chief Operations Officer, RTIA, thought that Adv Mpikashe had already covered the issues in her response.
Adv Mpikashe responded to Mr Hunsinger that the definition of “infringement” already covered the Road Transport legislation in general, and she had not understood why the suggestion had been to include national parks.
Mr Hunsinger asked whether SANParks areas were covered already.
Mr Chuwe suggested that a written response be prepared by the Department on this issue.
Mr Tsholetsane said that anyone charged by a road traffic officer with specific charges would be charged in terms of the CPA. The intention of the AARTO was to charge offences correctly, under the correct Act. He thought that the mention of SAPS was misplaced, but did say that road traffic officers were being trained.
The Chairperson concluded that the Bill could be regarded as work in progress.
3rd term Committee Programme: Consideration and Adoption
Mr Ramatlakane said that the majority of the report dealt with AARTO and a new programme might be required. The first week of this term would be dedicated to dealing with written submissions on the Bill, and the following week with oral submissions, even possibly in the third week of term. He thought that by the fourth week of the term, the Committee would be able to start on its clause by clause consideration of the Bill.
Mr Radebe said that the week of 22 August would not be utilised by the Portfolio Committee and so he suggested that the Committee use Tuesday 23 August 2016 to discuss issues relating to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).
The Secretary reminded the Committee that in the Committee week, PRASA could be invited for a full day meeting.
The Chairperson asked that the Portfolio Committee consider a petition that was submitted by a Member, and the 1st quarter 2016 PRASA report. The Committee Secretary was asked to circulate the petition again. There were likely to be two matters pending from the report.
Mr Ramatlakane suggested that the Committee also should meet with the PRASA subsidiaries, on project refurbishing and project organisation, and discuss Metrorail and Gauteng and Western Cape service delivery challenges.
The Chairperson suggested that two days then be set aside for the PRASA meetings to ensure that all issues were dealt with. She agreed that there was a need to meet with individual subsidiaries.
Mr Sibande suggested that the respective urgency of the petition and the proposal to meet PRASA be weighed. He thought that PRASA may disappoint the Committee by not bringing all that was required, and there was a need to evaluate the documents provided before PRASA actually was called to meet with the Committee.
The Chairperson responded that PRASA was ready. There had been a strike during the report-back period, and there was a need to speak to challenges with the PRASA communication. The Committee had not been satisfied with the Group CEO's response, which were very generalised. The Committee wanted to meet with Autopax as the Executive Chairperson had been unable to give detail about its strategic and operational challenges.
Mr Hunsinger felt that it would be necessary to interrogate the Road Transport Amendment Bill.
The Committee Secretary suggested that the Committee could have a workshop with PRASA in the morning and then fully engage with the issues during an afternoon session.
The Chairperson also noted that the National Land Transport Amendment Bill presentation had not been fully engaged with by the Committee as yet, and she suggested one day dedicated to this. Perhaps a workshop should be help on the morning, and issues from public transport sector such as a the taxi association could be covered in the afternoon. She suggested that the PRASA meeting be arranged for Tuesday and Wednesday in Committee Week, and Thursday should be set aside for the NLTA Bill issues, and the third quarter report.
The Committee agreed.
Committee minutes: Adoption
Minutes 12 April 2016
Mr M Maswanganyi was concerned about the page numbering, and the sub-heading numberings.
Mr Hunsinger highlighted that some pages could be missing, as the information provided by the sentence beginning from 6.1 did not make sense.
The Chairperson remembered a similar problem on a previous occasion. She suggested that these minutes not be adopted until all information was provided.
Minutes 19 April 2016
Mr Maswanganyi noted that again, the pages were not numbered.
The Chairperson noted that the Department’s responses must be added to page two of the draft minutes.
Subject to this information being inserted, the Committee adopted the minutes.
Minutes 3 May 2016
Mr Mulaudzi asked about mention being made of Ms D Carter's participation. Her party, COPE, had refrained from taking part in all Parliamentary activities.
The Chairperson noted that although COPE had decided not to participate, Ms Carter had continuously recorded her apologies.
Mr Mulaudzi felt that she should not be recorded as being part of the Committee.
Mr Ramatlakane thought that the matter had been discussed, and the apology of Ms Carter had been rejected, so he could not understand why it was recorded. The Party should be sending a letter formally notifying the Committee of her removal.
Mr Sibande believed that the minutes should reflect that she was absent, not an apology.
Mr M Mabika (NFP) said that sending an apology was not a problem, but she should not be invited to meetings.
The Chairperson conceded that it might have been a mistake to invite Ms Carter to meetings after her party had decided to withhold all participation of its members in Parliament. She suggested that the apology be accepted, but that in future, she would not be invited to meetings.
Mr Ramatlakane suggested that the Committee should seek legal advice. She was in theory still an MP and a member of this Committee. He thought that her apology could not be accepted, because of the stance taken by her party.
Mr Sibande suggested that the Committee was spending too much time on the issue, pointing out that it was her party, and not the Committee, who took the decision that she could not attend.
At the suggestion of Members, the Chairperson asked the Parliamentary Legal Advisors to consider the matter and feed back at the next meeting.
The minutes were adopted, subject to this matter being clarified.
Minutes 4 May 2016
The minutes were adopted.
Minutes 17 May 2016
The Chairperson noted that there was no page numbering.
The minutes were adopted, subject to that technical correction.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Amendment Bill [B38-15]: consideration of oral submissions for public hearing 2
- Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Amendment Bill [B38-15]: consideration of oral submissions for public hearing 1
- Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Amendment Bill [B38-15]: consideration of oral submissions for public hearing 3
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