The Pretoria High Court has ruled that the The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Amendment Act which intended to incorporate a demerit system for traffic offenses is unconstitutional and invalid. This comes after its Gauteng based trial was brought into disrepute by The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) and challenged the validity and legality of the Act in court proceedings in October 2021.
Earlier this morning, Judge Annali Basson found in favor of OUTA and ruled the existing AARTO Act and the Amendment Act are both unconstitutional and serve no purpose to improve real road safety and reduce fatalities. OUTA’s Wayne Duvenhage has stated that various attempts over the past few years to engage with authorities for valid and constitutional amendments that are not only practical and workable but serve for the safety of civil society have been ignored and court was the only alternative.
Duvenhage also stated that this lack of interaction and civil participation “now sends government back to the drawing board on what has become quite a mess”. In the interim, this means that existing traffic laws can’t be fined or charged for infringement by traffic officials until a new lawful act is passed and gazetted which will expectedly set the already struggling government department into further disarray.
Within the hearing, the court also requested that the respondents of the case who were Fikile Mbalula (South African Minister of Transport), Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma (Minister Of Co-Operative Governance), the Appeals Tribunal and Traditional Affairs and the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) pay OUTA’s costs. This includes all legal fees and the costs of two counsel.
From its inception, the AARTO act has raised eyebrows and hopefully this embarrassing court procedure that has left government officials retreating with their tails between their legs will foster more cooperative collaboration between government and civil society in gazzeting new laws that benefit the safety and wellbeing of all South African roadusers.