Vow to challenge 'speeding offences'
MOTORING / 24 Nov '12, 10:47amBy: Thabiso Thakali
Another faulty speed camera in Randburg has been snapping Joburg motorists, churning out fines and summonses for excessive speeding which could result in “offenders” being imprisoned. This comes barely a month after the Joburg metro cops were forced to cancel thousands of fines issued to motorists travelling in Republic Road because the speed camera was faulty.
Justice Project SA chairman Howard Dembovsky said the camera located on the corner of Bram Fischer and Frere streets had been identified as “producing extraneous readings that simply cannot be true speed measurements”. In May, the driver of a Toyota Prado SUV was photographed travelling at 190km/h on a Sunday in the 60km/h zone.
Justice Project SA chairman Howard Dembovsky says the camera on the corner of Bram Fischer and Frere streets has been identified as producing extraneous readings. He warned motorists to carefully examine their fines and not assume they were guilty. Credit: Independent Newspapers
The photographs showed, however, that the alleged offence was committed while there were more than two cars driving in front of the vehicle and three on the left.
In August another driver was caught travelling at 145km/h with at least four other vehicles driving in front of the vehicle and three on the side.
Both drivers of the two vehicles were to be summonsed and criminally charged with excessive speeding, charges which carry a hefty fine or imprisonment as well as resulting in a criminal record.
But Dembovsky said the two motorists had vowed to legally challenge their “offences” in court on the basis that the metro police could not prove that they had been speeding.
“What makes these two photographs of the alleged offences particularly unbelievable to anyone who knows anything about traffic flow is the fact that, in both instances, there was a fairly tight grouping of other vehicles in the photographs,” explained Dembovsky.
“Had the two Toyotas been travelling at 190km/h and 145km/h respectively, either an illegal street race was in progress or there would have been a catastrophic crash as a result of these ridiculously high speeds in a 60km/h zone.”
Dembovsky said an independent expert involved in the manufacturing of speed-measuring equipment said the sensors on the road surface where the camera was placed had been poorly installed. This caused vehicles on the left to trigger simultaneous readings in the righthand side lane and inflate the speed readings.
“But not every motorist has access to experts in speed measurement and fewer have any concept of what speed they may have been travelling on some day in the distant past,” he said. “Traffic law, and in particular camera speed enforcement, has been deliberately modelled to shift the onus of proof on to the accused…”
Dembovsky said scores of innocent people either forked out hard-earned cash on speeding fines where they were not speeding at all or, worse, got convicted and were given a criminal record.
He said the faulty cameras raised questions of how reliable the equipment was and how technically competent the technicians who checked it were.
“One also has to ask if two distinctly different sites have presented problems in recent months, who is to say that other sites are not similarly flawed?” he added.
Last month The Star reported that infringement notices issued from June 1 to August 31 were cancelled by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department after they were captured by a faulty camera on Republic Road.
Yesterday Joburg metro police spokesman Wayne Minaar confirmed the cancellation of the fines and refunds regarding the Republic Road camera, and he was aware of the Bram Fischer camera problem.
Minaar promised to respond to the Saturday Star once he had established the facts, but he had not done so by the time of going to print.
Dembovsky warned motorists to carefully examine their fines, and not just assume they were guilty. -Saturday Star