Arista Mootheram

A recent judgement has been published relating to the camera that is used by metro and traffic police officials when regulating speed limits. The judgment was handed down by the Acting Deputy Judge President, S. Naidoo in the High Court of South Africa Free State Division, Bloemfontein, in The State v Gomolemo Thakanyane wherein a matter automatically went on review in terms of Section 302 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 51 of 1977.

The Accused in the matter was charged in the Brandfort Magistrate’s Court for contravening section 59(4)(a) of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 for allegedly exceeding the speed limit of 80 km per hour and travelled at 141 km per hour.

The accused pleaded guilty in terms of Section 112(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act. However, a query was addressed to the Magistrate who sentenced the accused, relating to whether or not the accused when pleading guilty to the charge, admitted to the following:

  1. The recorded speed;
  2. The proper function of the speed measuring device; and
  3. The competence of the traffic officer to set up and operate the speed measured.

These requirements were handed down by a Full Bench in the case of The State v Phuzi [2018] ZAFSHC 213.

In furtherance to the above, it is the State’s duty to prove that the device that is used to measure speed is reliable for the purpose of capturing one’s speed; that the device determined and registered the speed accurately and that the device was properly set up in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. It is of utmost importance that the person who operates the device is trained to do so and this be admitted in order to prove that the speed was measured in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.

In light of the above, it has recently been discovered that people who have been caught speeding using the ProLaser 4 speed gun may just as well get off scot-free from the charge. This is as a result of the failure in proving that the ProLaser 4 speed gun underwent the necessary tests and approval required from an independent laboratory in order for it to be legally used in the country. It has come to knowledge that the software and hardware versions of the ProLaser 4 speed gun are unknown and the fact that there is no evidence that the device was sealed after it had been calibrated by the distributor, also creates uncertainty as to the accuracy of the speed gun.

Therefore, should you be pulled over for speeding, you have the right to politely ask the metro police officer to see the calibration certificate for the speed measuring device and you may also ask to see the operator’s certificate of the officer who is operating the measuring device. You also have the right to ask the metro police officer to see his or her appointment certificate as a peace officer.

Should they refuse to show you any of the above, it is best advised that you remain silent and note same in your defence.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.