Fikile Mbalula licence

Photo: GCIS/ Flickr

AARTO Act declared INVALID: Mbalula studying recent judgement

The AARTO Act, which would have brought the introduction of the demerit system for traffic offences, has been declared invalid

Fikile Mbalula licence

Photo: GCIS/ Flickr

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula is weighing his options in the wake of a recent court judgement, which nullified the AARTO Acts (Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences).

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) had approached the courts in October 2021, asking that both the main act and the amendment act be declared unconstitutional and invalid.

On Thursday, 13 January 2022, the High Court in Pretoria ruled in OUTA’s favour and agreed with its position.

According to the AARTO website, the act has been in force since 2008 both in Tshwane and Johannesburg and differs entirely from the Criminal Procedure Act which has been and still is used to prosecute road traffic offences everywhere in South Africa except both cities. The AARTO Act would have brought the introduction of the demerit system for traffic offences.

In reaction to the court’s decision on the AARTO Act, the Transport Ministry says Fikile Mbalula is still studying the verdict and how he responds will depend on the legal advice he receives on the matter.

“The Minister is studying the judgement and will be guided by legal advice on whether to appeal the judgement or not,” the ministry says.

For OUTA, which has been fighting the demerit act for many years now, says it welcomes the court’s ruling.

“We are very pleased with the court’s decision. OUTA believes that AARTO in its current format does nothing to improve road safety, nor does it reduce the scourge of road fatalities in South Africa. We are satisfied that the judgment will be sending the government back to the drawing board. This time around, we trust the relevant departments will engage meaningfully with civil society to obtain our input when developing such important policies for the country”

OUTA’s Adv Stefanie Fick

The organisation’s Adv Stefanie Fick says it’s unfortunate that government chose to ignore valid concerns and well researched input, and pushed ahead with the amendment. Fick says not only did they waste a lot of time, but also valid resources, as the AARTO roll out will have to be stopped while the act is once again amended and taken through the legislative process.