The three new Acts signed into law by Cyril Ramaphosa will affect how we drive, will act on fraudulent qualifications and give debt relief to lower-end earners. Whilst some of these laws have been in the pipeline for some time, there has been mixed reaction to these new pieces of legislation.
1. The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Bill has motorists worried as transgressors will be dealt with in the following ways;
- Failing to pay traffic fines can lead to a block on obtaining driving and vehicle licences and an administration fee – in addition to other penalties;
- Where documents previously had to be delivered by registered mail through the post office, in terms of the amendment, authorities will now also be able to serve documents electronically and can send reminders via WhatsApp and SMS;
- A new demerit system will be introduced which, depending on the severity of the offence, will see 1 – 6 points allocated for offences. If an infringer has more than 12 points, it will result in the disqualification of the driving licence and three suspensions will result in its cancellation.
- The establishment of a new Appeals Tribunal which will preside over issues that are raised under the new act.
Reaction from the Automobile Association and the public is that this act is just another way for authorities to collect revenue making it easier to deliver fines and hold vehicle licence renewals to ransom over unpaid fines. Civil action group Outa will challenge the constitutionality of the act as they suspect that the act will be used to force motorists to pay e-tolls fees in Gauteng through ‘fine print’ details like making it an offence to ignore road signs which could include e-toll fees.
2. The new National Credit Amendment Act aims to provide relief to over-indebted South Africans who have no other means of extracting themselves from over-indebtedness and has caused an outcry from the Banking Association of South Africa (Basa) as it will adversely affect the lending and credit industry.
Some of the controversial provisions of the act include;
- Allowing certain applicants to have their debt suspended in part or in full for up to 24 months;
- Having the debt extinguished altogether if the financial circumstances of the applicant do not improve. The criteria for meeting this debt write-off include:
– where the unsecured debt is not more than R50,000;
– where the unsecured debt was accrued through unsecured credit agreements, unsecured short term credit transactions or unsecured credit facilities only
– where the person earned no more than R7,500 a month over the last six months.
Whilst National Treasury estimates that this act could result in the write-off of R13.2 billion to R20 billion of debt, Basa cautions that, besides the costs banks would incur writing off debt, they are more likely to make lending conditions much tighter thereby making it more difficult for the poor to secure credit. The overwhelming feeling from the banks is that some of their customers will get away with not having to repay their debt as a result of the new laws.
3. The National Qualifications Framework Amendment Act will clamp down on CV fraud and will effectively ‘name and shame’ individuals who misrepresent their qualifications, Harsh consequences for those caught lying about their qualifications include being fined and/or imprisoned for a period not exceeding five years. The act also provides for the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to establish and maintain separate registers for professional designations, misrepresented qualifications and fraudulent qualifications.
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