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No more camera fines for Joburg speedsters

Tender intervention impacts law enforcement, costs city millions.

An intervention by the DA administration in Johannesburg to clean up contracts with service providers has brought the electronic enforcement of speed limits to a halt and seriously affected law enforcement in general, Moneyweb has learnt.

The City of Joburg has failed to respond to detailed questions about the matter.

Four different and independent sources have, however, confirmed that around March the city cancelled contracts of five service providers who supplied equipment and systems to generate the fines.

Former director Gerrie Gerneke, who retired from the Johannesburg Metro Police (JMPD) two years ago, told Moneyweb that the department used to generate R30 million to R35 million per month from traffic fines. This was largely done through the 500 000 camera fines issued every month.

This income he believes has now been reduced to less than R3 million.

He is, however, more concerned about the fact that motorists can now speed with impunity. Gerneke says electronic enforcement on the scale previously done in Joburg is the most appropriate way of reducing vehicle accidents on the city’s freeways.

According to Gerneke the service providers, including TMT Services, Syntell and MVS Phumelelo, have been providing a turnkey electronic law enforcement system for several years. That includes the provision of calibrated cameras, the vehicles used to place such cameras every morning, uploading the data, providing computers, generating fines, delivering fines to the South African Post Office for service on the vehicle owners as well as paying the postage.

The service providers were paid per prosecutable photo and that equated to about 40% of the collected revenue from such fines, he said. Some months they collectively earned up to R20 million from which they had to cover the cost of their equipment and staff before taking profit, Gerneke says.

The equipment they provided included, among other things, 120 mobile and 68 fixed site cameras, 250 computers, more than 150 general vehicles and six vehicles equipped with highly specialised automatic number plate recognition systems used at smart road blocks.

When he left the JMPD two years ago the contracts were extended by a year and thereafter on a month-to-month basis, he said.

Gerneke and several other sources confirmed that the new DA administration cancelled the contracts around March. In terms for the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA), it is unlawful to repeatedly extend a contract without calling for competitive tenders again and the move was apparently aimed at cleaning out non-compliant contracts.

It however left the city without cameras or systems to issue the volumes of speeding fines it used to.

Cornelia van Niekerk, owner of fines administrator Fines4U, told Moneyweb that in the past she received more than 1 000 camera fines per month from the JMPD on behalf of her clients. Fines4U administers fines on behalf of 500 companies and 8 000 individuals clients. Since March she has not received anything and no such fines are loaded onto the National Contravention Register she has access to.

National chairman of the Justice Project Howard Dembovsky, confirms that JMPD used to focus almost solely on issuing speeding fines by camera. It has dried up since the end of February, beginning of March when the service providers were booted out, he says.

The city thereafter utilised a provision in the MFMA to “piggyback” on a tender awarded to Syntell by neighbouring Ekurhuleni. It is not clear exactly what the scope of the new contract with Syntell is, but Moneyweb understands it mainly provides for the “back office” and not for large-scale camera enforcement.

The city did not respond to questions on whether it plans to issue a new tender for electronic speed enforcement and if so, when this will be done.

Gerneke says provided the city has the necessary expertise, the full procurement process can take up to 12 months before a new service provider is appointed in the highly technical field of law enforcement. Even then, it can take a further few months to ramp up to full service, he says.

Gerneke says other contracts that the city cancelled due to non-compliance include the provision of CCTV services, which is the nerve centre of the security system in the CBD, and contracts for the processing of accident statistics and the digitisation of licensing documentation.

The on-street parking control contract that was developed after six years without such a system was also cancelled, which cost the city an income of about R1 million per month, Gerneke says.

About 190 people have lost their jobs as a result of the loss of the camera enforcement contract and 68 after the cancellation of the CCTV contract, he says.

“These systems are the backbone of law enforcement in the city,” says Gerneke. “Without them the whole system that was built up over years is imploding. It breaks my heart.”

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It is important to have law enforcement and answers on this matter but the style in which the article is written appears to want to generate sensationalism. There is no mention as to whether Gerrie Gerneke has any interests in one of the 4 services providers whose contracts have been cancelled.

Furthermore no mention is made about how many traffic fines are issued every month by how many JMPD staff, nor how many millions of Rands are lost to the city on bribes for “lunch” money and I am sure that there is no investigation into the consistency of fine amounts issued for the same offences either. It would be interesting to see what the monthly salary bill is for the JMPD and what is done about bribery at present. Perhaps one should outsource the full JMPD on tender to a private security company where you get efficiency and effectiveness with no bribes plus consistent competent law enforcement.

Gerrie Gerneke is on full retirement and has no interest or affiliation with any company that has any form of interest in law enforcement contracts.

Generating 30-35 million from half a million fines means that the average fine is R60-R70. It sounds extremely suspicious to me. I have not visited Joburg for years and not sure about the usual speeding fine but I think it should be much higher. Of course, there is an other possibility, insider cancelling most of the fines for some KFC money.

The focus of the article on revenue rather than public safety, is disappointing. Adds to the suspicion around the real motivation why municipalities use this mode of “law enforcement”. Like stopping people for not stopping 100% at stop streets where it’s absolutely no danger. Rather use our human resources to unroadworthy and overloaded vehicles, speeding trucks and busses, etc. etc. Yes there is a role for electronic speed cameras. But I dought their claimed contribution to road safety. After years of fighting deaths on the road we seem to make little to no progress. Roadworthiness, general condition of roads, real and visible traffic policing and on the spot addressing of total disregard for road rules are severely lacking. Please our dear municipal fathers, revisit your real role and mission.

I would not really worry about any fines, when the taxi drivers fines get cancelled it will be a free for all on our roads. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander. Chaotic toothless traffic department.

There is however another opportunity for law enforcement where the objective is to stop speeding. I am positive that if I am caught for speeding with no option of a fine but to do community service. When making it public a lot of people will think twice about the road traffic rules and adherence. This could replace the horrendous amount of money spent on maintaining public/government facilities for example. Think about how the press will have something to publish. Neah! Who would like to kill generating money?

I agree that speeding is not what kills; but the mentality of SA drivers. We need to work on this mentality bit. How long have we heard about the points system going live? Once you get X demerit points; community service must be compulsory. Joburg is busy with clean up process; I’m sure help will be required.

I still wish to a see a “standardised” costs for fines..
Depending where you are and what you doing the costs are different.

Electronic enforcement serves a purpose, but certainly does not come close to real law enforcement. The way people are going through red lights nowadays is a disgrace and endangers everyone. Nothing beats the ‘educational experience’ of being pulled over by an honest and professional officer and getting an earful and a fine.

I can laugh at this: “the only way to reduce the accident rate is to have electronic enforcement”. But, you have an inflow of 500 000 fines per month. The way it was written, we can assume that this is a steady number……which brings one back: how is that reducing accident numbers?

Or, are we to believe that, when electronic enforcement was working, the accident numbers were reducing, but people were still speeding…..?

Electronic enforcement has it’s place, for sure. But I’ve seen far too many instances where it is just used as an easy-to-implement tax on motorists. And taxis still sail through intersections, with no fear at all of being caught…

In the past 5 yrs that I’ve since moved up from Cpt to live in Jhb.. EVERY single accident I’ve avoided has had not been due to speed.

Instead of i have to contend with idiots driving on the wrong side of the road, through red robots and stop signs, changing lanes mid intersection, cutting across barriers, painted islands, below & red lanes, the sandton safari tours with posh SUVs..

Personally.. If i am ever involved in an accident (which is inevitable giving the variables at play, i can only be so lucky with prevention) I will me laying a major class action against the municipality with the hours of dash cam footage.

The sad thing is I see the same morons do the same thing daily.. and you know its bad when a taxi driver is the least of your concerns. I suspect the number of reckless endangerment cases I could lay daily would be upward of 35 per day and most of which against vehicles in excess of R300k..i.e. these are professional people who are acting ignorant.

I think in Sa we need a new law.. u ignore road laws, u get no protection from state. i.e. jump a red robot, someone can pull u out of your car and beat you till admit wrong doing.

“Illegal law enforcement”

Yet another Radical Tranformation from the ZANC

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