The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (to be renamed the Road Traffic Infringement Authority) is a creature created by Section 3 of the AARTO Act. It is a State Owned Enterprise that derives the vast majority of its revenue from traffic fines, together with further fees it raises on them. It was created out of thin air on 1 July 2007, although it only commenced operations in 2010. Prior to that time, the RTMC, which is an issuing authority, illegally performed its functions
Despite being funded almost solely by penalties applicable to traffic fines, together with further fees it raises on them, the RTIA disingenuously claims to be “an independent arbiter between alleged infringers and issuing authorities”. It also adopts the motto “justice in adjudication”.
All the RTIA’s staff are remunerated in the form of generous salaries and performance bonuses. According to its own 2018/19 annual report, in the 2018/19 financial year, 93.17% of its revenue came from traffic fines and fees thereon. Its employment costs exceeded the grant it received from Parliament by R69,985,074. Without the income from traffic fines and fees, it would be bankrupt yet it maintains that it is not biased because of this.
The RTIA has been the main driving force in steamrolling the AARTO Amendment Bill (now Act) through Parliament. In October 2019, the Department of Transport hurriedly published sloppily drafted regulations to accompany the AARTO Amendment Act for public comment. One of the two individuals to whom comments were to be submitted , and undoubtedly had a hand in drafting them, was a person in the employ of the RTIA.
If an alleged infringer does not act on an infringement notice within 32 days of its service, or presumed service, the RTIA gets involved. It issues courtesy letters and its Registrar issues enforcement orders. It also becomes entitled to the remaining of the 50% of the penalty, when the discount is forfeited.
Its idea of educating the public is deploying two buses emblazoned with “When it comes to traffic fines don’t get taken for a ride” and “Paying your fines made easy inside”.
As can be seen in the financials above, these buses cost R10,401,000 a year to rent. A private contractor runs this plumb cash-cow and no educational material or programs are provided, despite the RTIA’s claims that they are.
As is also apparent from the RTIA’s 2018/19 annual report, the entire Board resigned on 31 July 2018, leaving the RTIA’s Registrar, Japh Chuwe to run the entire show without any corporate governance in place, for at least eight months.
The Minister of Transport published his intention to appoint certain persons to the Board of the RTIA on 2 March 2019, and again on 11 October 2019. Only one name was common to both notices – that of Mr Brian Chaplog and the latter notice did not include a Director of Public Prosecutions.
Even though the AARTO Act makes no provision for a CEO, Chuwe signed the 2018/19 annual report as the “Registrar/Chief Executive Officer” of the RTIA, as he has done for a few years now.
The RTIA employs so-called “representations officers” to consider written representations made by alleged infringers. In February 2017, the Pretoria High Court found that the Deputy Registrar of the RTIA had illegally influenced so-called “representations officers” to reject hundreds of written representations made by a single entity.
Following that judgment, the RTIA claims that it has mended its ways and no longer influences the decisions of so-called “representations officers”. The problem however is that there is nothing to prevent it from acting like that again in the future. PAJA reviews are very expensive and take a long time to reach finality. This is more especially so in light of the repeated stalling tactics the RTIA and its legal representatives employ, in the apparent hope to wear litigants down.
The RTIA can be contacted through its unsecured website at http://rtia.co.za/contact.php.