Outa wants Aarto scrapped and declared unconstitutional

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) is gearing up to fight for the unconstitutionality of the Aarto Act and the Aarto Amendment Act. 

Outa has applied for both acts to be declared unconstitutional in the Pretoria High Court, because they infringe on the legislative powers of local and provincial government as per the Constitution. 

The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act of 1998 created a single national system of road traffic regulation. This is based on demerit points which are deducted from drivers for traffic offences. 

The Amendment Act of 2019 was gazetted and signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa in August last year, but the date for a driver demerits point system still has not been confirmed. 

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said in January that the Amendment Act would come into effect in June, but this was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As per the Amendment Act, the Road Traffic Infringement Authority (RTIA) and its Appeals Tribunal were assigned to enforce the Aarto Act.

Outa head of accountability Advocate Stefanie Fick said in her affidavit: "These constitutional inconsistencies of the Aarto Act and the Amendment Act lie at the very core of both Acts and are not capable of severance without negating the fundamental purpose of the two Acts." 

Outa argues that the act infringes on the ability of local government to legislate regarding provincial roads, traffic and parking. 

Outa said the Aarto Amendment Act will not improve road safety or reduce fatalities, adding that statistics do not support the claim that a demerit system would lead to less road fatalities. 

"Aarto was rolled out in Gauteng ten years ago and failed spectacularly." 

Should Outa's aim to declare Aarto unconstitutional be denied, the organisation will then oppose Section 17 of the Amendment Act. This would remove the need for notices and documents to be served to the public personally or by registered mail, ensuring that documents and notices be served to the public via email, SMS or voice message.

Fick believes that requiring the public to collect notices, or having them delivered by mail, "is manifestly inadequate", especially considering the potential serious consequences of said traffic infringement.  

Mbalula and the RTIA have filed notices to oppose the application, and have until the end of September to file their opposing papers. 

(Compiled by Nica Richards)

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