The Portfolio Committee on Transport met to deal with legislation on the draft Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) intro-Amendment Bill, and work towards submitting it to Parliament. The brief by Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) highlighted the original statements and the new amendments in the Bill, and itemised the clause by clause changes in the draft.
During the deliberations, the Committee asked questions to clarify the meaning and interpretation of clauses that did not align well grammatically, or had negative implications. In addition, it questioned the implications of some clauses and asked the team to re-phrase some to ensure that the true meaning was conveyed. The RTIA had mentioned that it did not issue enforcement orders, so the Committee asked it to state who could be exempted from paying fines and clarify what punishment could be given to an infringer before an Appeals Tribunal sitting. What strategy did it plan to use to synchronise the laws of the RTIA with those of metropolitan areas? Would the enforcement process uniformly affect each Province?
The Committee appreciated that a clause had been inserted in the draft Bill which indicated that the President, with the advice of the Minister of Transport, could appoint members of the Appeals Tribunal. It observed that the phrase ‘legal training’ as the qualification of members of the Appeals Tribunal was ambiguous, and suggested that the RTIA could consider the phrase ‘legal qualifications’ instead. It suggested that the Minister should limit the meetings of the Appeals Tribunal to six sittings a year, or one every month, and then later regulate frequency based on the situation, to ensure that the members of the Tribunal did not abuse the privilege.
The RTIA acknowledged the suggestions on the sittings of the Appeals Tribunal, but indicated that the Tribunal should be allowed to deal with the bulk of cases first, as the cases would fade out when infringers recognised that the system could not be manipulated.
The Committee resolved to meet again on the Bill on 27 and 28 June, to ensure that after the recess it could present it to Parliament.
The Committee was also informed of the opportunity to go on a study tour to Brazil, the tentative dates for the oversight visit, the elements of the study tour proposal, the motivation for the visit and how the oversight visit could assist the Committee to strengthen the transport system in South Africa.
Draft AARTO intro-Amendment Bill: RTIA briefing
The Chairperson said the purpose of the meeting was to deal with legislation on the draft Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) intro-Amendment Bill and work towards submitting it to Parliament.
Mr Thabo Tsholetsane, Chief Operating Officer, Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) said that the AARTO Bill had been put out for comments, after which there had been deliberations on the clauses and areas where agreements in principle had been drafted. The draft indicated the original statements in green, which would be taken out, while the statements in red indicated the new amendments in the AARTO Bill.
He described the clause by clause changes made in the draft (AARTO) intro-Amendment Bill.
In Clause one, Section (one) (d), the definition of ‘date of service’ was given as the date on which an infringer received the relevant document served on him or her under section 30. In Section (one) (e), the date of service denotes the date which an electronic communication, as defined in the Electronic Communications Act, 2005 (Act No. 36 of 2005 was served to the infringer. In Section (one) (f), ‘habitual offender’ was substituted with ‘habitual infringer’. In Section (one) (h), ‘local authority’ was changed to ‘issuing authority’ to align with Chapter 7 of the Constitution and the Local Government Transition Act. In Section (one) (i), the ‘issuing authority’ was defined by the Minister of Transport. The word ‘sheriff’ was deleted in Section (one) (k), and the word ‘Tribunal,’ which refers to the Appeals Tribunal established by section 29A, was added to Section (one) (q).
The phrase ‘traffic and transport laws’ was inserted into Clause two, Section (four) (a) and the phrase ‘or the non-compliance with the prescribed processes by an issuing authority relating to an infringement’ was also inserted to Section (four) (b).
In Clause three, Section (11) (two) of the principal Act was amended and the word ‘authority’ was used to substitute ‘agency’ and ‘Board’ was used to replace ‘board’; and the phrase ‘with the approval of the Minister’ was inserted into Section (11) (two).
In Clause four, Section (12) of the principal Act was repealed.
Similarly, in Clause seven, Section (17) (2) (e), since the principal Act had been repealed, the phrase ‘in the prescribed manner’ was inserted and the phrase ‘prescribed penalty and fees’ for an infringer was also inserted for an infringer in Section (17) (2) (h).
In Clause eight, Section (18) was amended because the Committee had agreed that minor offences and major offences should not be segregated. The phrase ‘a representation in the prescribed manner’ was used to replace the word ‘representations’ in Section (18) (one) (a). Section (18) (four) (b) catered for different situations where the representative officer could issue penalties to an infringer. In Section (18) (seven) (d), the steps that a representative officer could take to advise an infringer when his representations had failed, were inserted and the phrase ‘to elect in the prescribed manner to be tried in court’ was deleted. The rest of Section (18) (seven) from (e) to (h) addressed how the infringer could pay his/her penalty.
In Clause nine, Section 19B of the principal Act was amended because the section on warrants had been removed, hence the word ‘warrant’ was substituted with the phrase ‘enforcement order’.
In Clause ten, Section 20 (one) (d) of the principal Act was amended to inform the infringer that any permit or licence issued in terms of any road transport legislation or operator card was suspended in terms of Section 25, or cancelled in terms of Section 27. In Section 20 (four) (d), the word ‘agency’ was changed to ‘authority,’ while In Section 20 (four) (g), the phrase ‘driving licence that is contained in an identity document’ was cancelled and the phrase ‘any permit or licence issued in terms of any road transport legislation’ was inserted.
Clause 11 was removed because Section 21 of the principal Act had been repealed.
Similarly, both Clause 12 and Clause 13 were removed because Section 22 of the principal Act had been repealed.
In Clause 14, because Section 24 of the principal Act was amended, subsections (4A) and (5) were amended by substituting the word ‘agency’ for ‘authority’ respectively.
In Clause 15, because Section 24 of the principal Act was amended, the subsections were amended to cover how to deal with juristic persons. According to Section 24 (three) (a), if the infringer was an operator or juristic party, the party must hand over the permit, card or licence issued in terms of road traffic legislation within a period of 32 days. In addition, Section 24 (four) deals with punishment for an infringer who violates Section 24 (three) (a). Section 24 (five) deals with how an infringer could apply for his permit, card or licence issued in terms of road traffic legislation after the suspension period.
In Clause 16, because Section 29 of the principal Act was amended, the phrase ‘infringements and’ was added to Section 29 (a).because the Committee had agreed that infringements could not be categorised.
Mr Tsholetsane introduced the Appeals Tribunal in Clause 17, which comprised the establishment and constitution of Tribunal (Section 29A), functions of Tribunal (Section 29B), qualifications of members of Tribunal (Section 29C), conditions of appointment and terms of office of members (Section 29D), how vacant posts could occur in Tribunal (Section 29E), how the Deputy Chairperson of Tribunal could be chosen (Section 29F), how sittings of Tribunal may be constituted (Section 29G), the decisions of Tribunal (Section 29H), appeals against decisions of Tribunal (Section 29I), and administrative work of Tribunal (Section 29J).
In Clause 19, because Section 30 of the principal Act was amended, Section 30 (a) prescribed that any document could be served to an infringer by postage or electronic services.
In Clause 20, because Section 32 of the principal Act was amended, Clause 20 Section 32 (one), (two), (three) and (four) was changed to Clause 20 Section 32 (one), (two), and (three) to ensure that the prescribed apportionment of penalties was understood. In conclusion, he said that because Clause 20 Section 34 of the principal Act was amended, a paragraph (c) was added which covered the manner in which an infringement notice, courtesy letter or infringement order could be re-issued. He reminded the Committee that RTIA did not issue enforcement orders but it was the duty of the infringement officer to issue the enforcement orders.
The Chairperson expressed appreciation to the team from RTIA and the Department of Transport (DoT) for the work done on the draft AARTO intro-Amendment Bill, and invited Members to make comments and seek clarity on the presentation.
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) asked the team to rephrase the sentence on traffic and transport laws in Clause two Section (four) (a), because it did not read well. He also asked why the team had used ‘laws’ in the sentence in Clause two Section (four) (a), but had used ‘legislation’ and ‘Act’ in other parts of the draft Bill.
Mr C Hunsinger (DA) remarked that the process to authorise the remuneration of persons employed in Clause three Section 11 (two) was too long, and could result in situations where persons employed were not remunerated. He asked the team why the opening and maintenance of accounts was placed in the hands of the Board, as stated in Clause six Section 15. He asked for Clause nine Section 19(B) (1) (c) to be rephrased because it did not fully capture the action of payment. Under the establishment and constitution of Tribunal Section 29A (six) (b) (ii), he asked the team to give clarity on the summary about the disqualification of an Appeal Tribunal member, based on spousal or associate relationship. He also asked the team to insert ‘where’ between ‘or’ and ‘becomes insolvent’ in Clause 29A (six) (c). In the functions of Tribunal under Clause 29B (two), he asked the team to specify how an appeal could be served when the process of an enforcement order was extended.
Ms S Xego (ANC) observed that RTIA had mentioned that it did not issue enforcement orders, so she asked RTIA to state who could be exempted from paying fines and clarify what punishment could be given to an infringer before an Appeals Tribunal sitting.
Mr M Sibande (ANC) remarked that different metropolitan areas operated with different laws, so he asked the RTIA to state the strategy it planned to use to synchronise the laws of the RTIA with those of metropolitan areas, and to clarify if the enforcement process would uniformly affect each province.
Mr Ramatlakane agreed with the submission of Mr Hunsinger, and observed that cases had occurred in which an infringer did not pay the full amount and then had to be served with another notice. He asked the RTIA how this could be incorporated into the draft AARTO intro-Amendment Bill, and also to clarify what penalties an infringer could suffer in terms of the motor permit disc.
Mr Hunsinger observed that the new changes were not reflected in the last portion of the memorandum on the Appeals Tribunal. He asked the RTIA to state how infringement cases would not be placed in suspense. He also asked it to clarify what it meant by the statement on ‘money received’ in Clause 20 Section 32 (three).
Mr T Mpanza (ANC) referred to sections which had spelling errors and sections that did not flow, and asked the RTIA to amend themt.
Mr G Radebe (ANC) commented on the legal clarity of the clauses. He asked the RTIA to be more specific because the phrase ‘any matter,’ as stated in Clause 29B on the functions of the Tribunal, was ambiguous. He also remarked that the number of sittings of the Appeals Tribunal should be limited to ensure that it did not incur irregular expenses.
The Chairperson indicated that since the State Legal Advisers were available, the Committee could engage the SLAs on these observations.
Mr T Mulaudzi (EFF) remarked that since the RTIA was avoiding the issue of backlogs, the Appeals Tribunal could be given the benefit of the doubt and called to order when it abused sittings.
Mr Tsholetsane said that inconsistencies about the word ‘laws’ and ’legislations’ would be taken care of in the draft. He said that remunerations was supposed to end with the Minister of Transport, and would not extend to the Minister of Finance. The bank accounts were opened by the Board in terms of corporate governance.
He explained the process of paying fines and what happened if the infringers did not pay the correct fine, and said that schedule three indicated the different number of points prescribed. He explained why companies did not receive points, but clarified that enforcement orders were still enforced on companies. The RTIA would insert a clause that specified that, if an infringer was a family member of a Member of the Appeals Tribunal, then the Appeals Tribunal member would be disqualified from been a member of the Tribunal. The RTIA had an automated timeframe for invoices to be paid. The metropolitan areas pay fees into AARTO accounts and the RTIA disburses the money.
He agreed with Mr Mulaudzi’s submission to allow the Appeals Tribunal to decide on its sittings to ensure that there would be no backlog of cases. He explained the process for the renewal of licences and the process of appeals. Indigent infringers would be allowed to pay in instalments, because the law did not discriminate between indigent people and those who could afford payments. Enforcements would be uniform across metropolitan areas.
He acknowledged that the qualification of Members of the Appeals Tribunal should be captured by the phrase ‘legal qualifications’ and not ‘legal training.’ The infringement cases should be finalised within a given timeframe, and the RTIA would consult with the State Legal Adviser to include the timeframe in the draft AARTO intro-Amendment Bill.
Mr Ramatlakane asked if the draft AARTO intro-Amendment Bill could legislate on hypothetical cases.
Mr Tsholetsane responded that it could not legislate on hypothetical cases. The RTIA would look at the flow of the draft AARTO intro-Amendment Bill and look at how to specify that the Appeals Tribunal would sit on cases that pertained to traffic infringements.
Advocate Qacha Moletsane, Head: Inter-governance and Legal Affairs, RTIA, said that the Committee should not interpret Clause 29B on functions of the Tribunal in isolation. It should also not be bothered about number of sittings at this stage, but focus on enhancing the legislation through inputs from the legal team.
Mr Tsholetsane indicated that the Appeals Tribunal should be allowed to deal with the bulk of cases first, as the cases would fade out when infringers recognised that the system could not be manipulated.
The Chairperson suggested that the Minister could limit the meetings to six a year, or one every month, and then later regulate the Sittings of the Appeals Tribunal based on the situation.
Mr Japh Chuwe, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), RTIA, acknowledged the suggestions on the sittings of the Appeals Tribunal, but remarked that a regulation might not be needed at this point even though the members of the Appeals Tribunal might want to abuse the situation.
The Chairperson invited the State Legal Adviser to make comments.
Adv Noluthando Mpikashe Parliamentary Legal Adviser said that the draft AARTO intro-Amendment Bill was taking shape, but her office would finalise the A Lists and address the concerns about any legal matters and the qualifications of members of the Appeals Tribunal.
The Chairperson invited the Mr Chris Hlabisa to make comments.
Mr Chris Hlabisa: Deputy Director General: Roads, DoT observed that the AARTO Bill had come a long way and appreciated the RTIA for the work done. The Act would ensure that the carnage on South African roads was reduced, hence the DoT appreciated the support of the Committee in fast tracking the Bill.
Mr Chuwe expressed appreciation to the Committee for the leadership and guidance given to the RTIA in processing the Bill, and also to Adv Mpikashe, Adv Qacha and Mr Hlabisa. After the Bill had passed through National Council of Provinces (NCOP), the RTIA would still need the support of the Committee to ensure it was processed in Parliament.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would meet again on the AARTO Bill on 27 and 28 June to ensure that after the recess it could present the Bill to Parliament.
Committee visit to Brazil
She invited the Committee Secretary to give Members information on the Committee’s proposed visit to Brazil.
Ms Valerie Carelse, Committee Secretary, informed the Committee of the tentative dates for the oversight visit. She also stated that Members would be informed about the logistics of the visit as soon as they were concluded, and invited the Content Adviser to inform Members of the likely places that would be visited.
The Content Adviser informed Members about the elements of the study tour proposal, the motivation of the visit and how it could assist the Committee in strengthening the transport system in South Africa. She emphasised that the Committee would be visiting the manufacturers of railway transport equipment in Brazil to see how they could assist the South African railway system.
The Chairperson reminded the Content Adviser that the training on railway systems should be factored into the visit.
Mr Mulaudzi remarked that he hoped the Committee would be able to see the new trains that would be procured and the staff of PRASA that were being trained during the oversight visit. He asked if Members could receive a briefing on the progress of the trainees that had gone to Brazil. He also asked if Members would receive a book on translation of the Portuguese language.
Mr Radebe asked if the Content Adviser could give the Committee a report on the activities of the trainees in Brazil, as they had also been scheduled to travel to France in terms of PRASA’s capacity build-up.
The Chairperson remarked that when the call process for the visit had been initiated, the Committee had proposed visiting both Brazil and France, but due to budget cuts from National Treasury, approval had been granted only for an oversight visit to Brazil. When the Committee returned from Brazil, the report presented to Parliament would indicate the impact of what the Committee would have achieved in France, and this would motivate why a visit to France was necessary.
The meeting was adjourned.
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