By Sanette Viljoen
There are speed cameras along most of South Africa’s highways. Summonses for speeding offences according to the cameras are usually sent to offenders by post. The question now is how long after being trapped by a speed camera may the summons be served on you?
In terms the general principles of the Criminal Procedure Act (Act 32 of 1944) traffic matters are subject to the same periods of prescription as common-law offences. The office of the Director of Public Prosecution, however, has various national forums where there are technical committees that draw up guidelines for handling law enforcement and the subsequent prosecution of every type of offence. These guidelines, therefore, determine law enforcement and the prosecution of every offence and may even differ from province to province.
The above-mentioned prosecution authority has practical guidelines that handle traffic matters different from other offences, in other words, the real law enforcement in the case of traffic matters.
In all cases where the offence was captured by a camera, the summons must be served on the registered owner or driver of the vehicle within 18 months; if this does not happen the fine expires. There are certain provinces where the law enforcers have prescribed shorter periods.
Regardless of the term of prescription in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act this type of fine expires after 18 months if the summons was not served.