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Police close in on traffic offenders

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

 MASERU — Police will soon launch a countrywide blitz against motorists who have dodged paying spot fines for traffic offences over the years.

The crackdown will target what the police say are “thousands of motorists” who have either not paid their fines or gave police wrong names and identities to avoid being tracked.

The police say they will be mounting impromptu roadblocks on the country’s major roads to weed out defaulting offenders.

They will also been digging through their files for motorists who have not paid their fines.

Defaulting motorists will be summoned to appear in court.

Although most spot fines for traffic offences are pegged at only M30, most motorists do not bother to pay them within the situlated deadline of seven days from the date of issue.

Inspector Lekhotla Mokete told the Sunday Express that “thousands of motorists” have been ignoring their fines.

But now they will face the full wrath of the law, Mokete said.

Just last month, about 389 people were slapped with spot fines across the country but only 57 bothered to pay.

Over the years, Mokete said, there has been a trend where only a handful of motorists bother to pay their fines.

Mokete said police were initiating court cases against truant motorists.

“The police are always looking for people who have not paid their spot fines,” he said.

“Cases against them will be opened in the Magistrate’s Court.”

Mokete said people who lie to the police about their residential addresses and names when they are issued with traffic tickets will also be charged for deliberately giving false identities to the police.

“Lying about one’s identity is an offence,” he said.

“This practice has made it even harder for police to find people who have not paid their spot fines.”

“We thought giving spot fines was a more convenient punishment for people who commit road traffic offences,” said Inspector ‘Mantolo Mothibeli.

“The plan was for people to account for their mistakes, accept the spot fines and move on with their businesses without being arrested.

“They would then pay their spot fines within the seven-day deadline.”

She said the idea was to reduce the number of motorists who have to appear in the Magistrate’s Court for traffic offences.

“But now many are disobeying the regulation,” Mothibeli said.

“There are some people who have more than one spot fine. We are forced to take them to court.”

Spot fines are paid at Lesotho Revenue Authority offices in Maseru and other districts.

After paying the fines, offenders are supposed to report to the police with proof of payment so that their names can be cleared.

Drivers in Lesotho are notorious of shooting through red traffic lights, overtaking at wrong places and ignoring road signs.

Worried by the increase in the number of accidents and carnage on the roads, the government recently introduced a new training syllabus for learner drivers.

There are also plans to introduce a demerit system for bad drivers.

Under that system bad drivers will have points deducted from their licences for specific offences.

When the points have reached a certain level, motorists will lose their licences and they will be banned from driving for some time.

South Africa has already started using the demerit system.

In a nutshell, the new South African system set to come into effect this month would operate as follows:

Drivers will be awarded 12 points at the beginning of each year.

If you lose all 12 points inside one year, your licence will be suspended.

After three suspensions, your licence will be cancelled.

If a driver remains penalty-free at the end of the year, the next year would start with an additional 12 points plus a bonus, making them a total of 24 points.

This process would be repeated every year, with good drivers building up a bank of points.

In the case of major traffic violations, the law will continue to take its normal course.

The new demerit system has been made possible by the introduction of the card-format driver’s licence, which enables traffic authorities to store the record of every driver.

Demerits will be rated according to a unit scale.  For example, if a motorist is found with an unregistered vehicle, he/she will be docked two demerit points and get 10 penalty units, which means a fine of R500.

If you are caught doing up to 20 percent over the speed limit, you will get a fine of R250, but no demerit points — for example, speeding up to 72km/h in a 60km/h zone or up to 144km/h in a 120km/h zone.

If you are 21 percent to 30 percent over the speed limit, you will get one demerit point and a R500 fine — for example, travelling up to 78km/h in a 60km/h zone or up to 156km/h in a 120km/h zone.

Doing more than 60 percent over the limit will see the driver being taken straight to court where the magistrate will determine the fine — and four points will be deducted.

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