18 February 2013

Namibia: Traffic Offenders Crowd Magistrate's Court

THE City of Windhoek is set to meet with the prosecutor general's office and the Justice Ministry today to discuss the fate of motorists with outstanding traffic fines.

Superintendent Helena Mootseng, the City Police spokesperson, said this was prompted by overwhelming requests from traffic offenders.

The Namibian has it on good authority that the magistrate's courts are struggling to handle the mass of people wanting to pay their fines to escape being arrested.

The City of Windhoek earlier this month granted traffic offenders a week's grace to pay their outstanding fines or risk arrest.

Mootseng said she was not aware of rumours that it was decided at a meeting between Prosecutor General Martha Imalwa and the Ministry of Justice's permanent secretary, Peingeondjabi Shipoh, that traffic offenders no longer need to appear in a magistrate's court for outstanding traffic fines.

"I am only aware of a meeting between officials of the City of Windhoek and other stakeholders such as the PG's office and the Justice Ministry to take place Monday [today]," she said.

"For us it is duty as normal. We will arrest anyone who has an outstanding traffic fine until another decision is taken following our meeting with the various stakeholders," she added.

A large group of people were observed on Saturday in front of the Windhoek Magistrate's Court in Lüderitz Street as traffic offenders rushed to pay their fines before the amnesty ended.

An official at the Windhoek Magistrate's Court, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Namibian that close to 700 traffic fines were paid on the day.

Mootseng said many others paid their fines at the traffic department of the City Police on Saturday.

The City Police said earlier this year that there were about 50 000 warrants of arrest outstanding.

These were for fines issued as far back as 2008, Mootseng said.

These alleged roadhogs did not only fail to pay their fines, but also did not appear in court on the date stated on their summonses.

She said it is difficult to establish a monetary value but the total amount runs into millions of Namibia dollars.

At an average of N$300 per ticket, the overdue fines are estimated to amount to N$15 million.

"That is why we are taking stringent action to recover the money. They force us to take these extreme measures."

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