How to check if a speeding fine is legal in South Africa

If you were caught speeding using a handheld speed trap device, there are requirements which should be met for the fine to be legal.

There is always a degree of uncertainty regarding speed traps and speed cameras in South Africa, including when you can be fined and where it is legal to trap drivers.
The growing list of technologies used in South Africa to enforce speed limits further complicates matters.
Here are answers to some of the common questions regarding the legality of speeding fines, with a focus on hand-operated speed trap devices.
The answers are courtesy of the AA’s Legal Advice portal, which contains information regarding road use in South Africa.

When you can be fined for speeding

The simple answer is that if you exceed the speed limit, you can be fined.
10km/h leeway of the speed limit may be applied before issuing a ticket for speeding. However, this is a guideline and does not have to be applied.
“It is important to remember that once a prosecution for speeding is initiated, the charge will start from 1km/h over the posted speed limit,” said the AA.

The minimum allowable distance between two speed traps

There is no minimum allowable distance between two speed traps.

Driving into a zone with a lower speed limit

When you are driving into a zone with a slower speed limit – example: from 120km/h into an 80km/h zone – there is a 300m grace distance.
The Prosecution Guidelines state that no prosecution may be instituted where the speed measurement was taken within 300 metres of the commencement of the speed limit zone, except with permission from the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The guidelines are operational guidelines only and non-compliance does not influence the accuracy of measurement results.
The decision on whether to prosecute remains at the discretion of the prosecutor.

A speed trap on the bottom of a hill

A manned speed trap where offenders are stopped at the roadside may be set up anywhere.
Fixed speed traps, where a photograph is taken, must have authorisation from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for installation.
This authority is motivated by improving traffic safety through reducing the speed to the speed limit in that area, regardless of location.

Handheld speed trap requirements

The prominent guidelines, provided by the AA, regarding handheld speed traps are:
  • A valid calibration certificate and the operator’s certificate must be available at all times.
  • A driver shall be afforded the opportunity to view the speed reading and the two certificates.
  • The speed measurement equipment (SME) must be mounted on a firm and stable surface. If it is mounted in or on a vehicle, the vehicle must be stabilised.
The following is in terms of the prosecuting guidelines for speed measurement equipment and traffic light violation-monitoring equipment.
Site Selection
When selecting a site for a speed measurement exercise, the following must be adhered to:
  • Site selection must be done during daytime for day and nighttime operation.
  • There shall be no large, stationary, or metal objects within a radius of 50m in front of the radar SME.
  • There shall be no metal road signs or vertical flat surfaces within 15 degrees on either side of the aiming direction, within a distance of 200m of the antenna.
  • The equipment may only be used where there is a clear view within 45 degrees of the direction of aim over a distance of 600m.
  • There shall be no high-tension cables within a radius of 100m of the antenna.
  • There shall be no discharge type lamps in operation within 45 degrees of the direction of aim within 100m of the antenna.
Speed measuring equipment
  • Equipment modified or permanently set that no signals are received and processed from vehicles more than 300m away may be used on straight roads.
  • Equipment not modified shall be used where rises and bends in the road take all vehicles further than 300m out of the measuring area of the SME.
Guidelines for prosecution with regard to speed measurements by laser equipment
When selecting a site for a speed measurement exercise, the operator must have a clear and uninterrupted view of the road and the vehicle measured for the duration of the measurement.

What you may ask when you are pulled over for speeding

Justice Project South Africa chairman Howard Dembosky said you may ask to see the calibration certificate for the speed measuring equipment used.
You may also ask to see the operator’s certificate for the person operating the device.
A motorist may also ask to see the officer’s appointment certificate as a peace officer.
Dembovsky said should you choose to request these certificates, you must remain polite at all times.
“If any one of them is not produced, don’t get into an argument about it, simply note it for your defence,” said Dembovsky.

Claims backlog 
big concern

HEALTH Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has blocked the tabling of the financials of the Compensation Fund in Parliament because he wanted to clean up the backlog of 100 000 cases of unpaid claims to injured workers.
Motsoaledi said in a letter to Parliament some of the unpaid claims date back to almost 20 years ago.

The backlog in the processing of claims to injured miners and other workers has led to delays in finalising and collating information on the state of the Compensation 
He said a lot of work was being done to fix the state of the fund. An actuarial valuation of the fund is under way. Motsoaledi said the valuation report was expected in mid-August.
The auditor-general has also started his work in auditing the fund.
The minister said the previous financials of the Compensation Fund had adverse opinions from the auditor-general owing to missing beneficiary files and the auditor-general not accepting the previous actuarial valuation of the fund.
Unpaid claims to thousands of workers is one of the serious problems affecting the miners and other workers in the country.
The Registrar of Pension Funds said last year there was R20 billion sitting in the coffers of pension funds for unclaimed benefits.
The Financial Services Board (FSB) said in a report last year about 3.5 million people were owed the R20bn in unclaimed benefits.
It said one of the problems was that companies and pension funds did not provide information to the workers that they were entitled to benefits if they retire, were dismissed or retrenched.
It said there was poor monitoring on the administration of the pension funds by the boards.
The FSB said in a recent review it found there was R5.2bn in unclaimed benefits in the mining industry. This constituted a total of 200 000 miners.
The FSB said workers had to be cautious when claiming their
benefits, and not do so through intermediaries.