Tshwane Metro Police have given more than 70 000 motorists, including council officials, a two-week ultimatum: pay your "debts" or go to jail.
The stern warning from the city's law enforcement agency follows the announcement that 77 000 warrants of arrest have been issued against Pretoria motorists in recent months.
The warrants will be served from November 1 during the Metro Police's three-month Operation Adherence - a massive city-wide anti-crime drive aimed at clamping down on those failing to settle traffic offences.
The outstanding fines for speeding, illegal parking and various other offences run into hundreds of thousands of rands, according to the Metro Police.
The operation will target private car owners, businesses, fleet operators, taxi associations and city officials.
The operation will see hundreds of Metro Police going to homes and businesses throughout the metro-pole delivering warrants and summons.
Tshwane Metro Police spokesperson Mel Vosloo said the operation was aimed at making sure that motorists realised "once and for all" that they had to pay for committing traffic offences.
"If people continue ignoring summons and warrants of arrest, we will arrest them," he said.
This was not the council's way of making money, he said, but rather a way of limiting road deaths by ensuring motorists took responsibility for their actions.
Vosloo said the number of warrants of arrest being issued had increased to such an extent that the notorious Metro Police White Bus was unable to cope with the workload.
They would start by targeting the top 500 offenders who had hundreds of warrants of arrest out in their names, he said.
"We will systematically move down the list and force people to go to court to answer for their transgressions," he said.
Vosloo said they would be using the White Bus, roadblocks and visits to homes and workplaces to crack down on traffic offenders.
"We are not going to rest until all the people have paid their fines or appeared in court to explain why they have failed to answer to their summons.
"If people claim that they have not received their summons we will, via a machine linked to our database, issue them with an on-the-spot summons as well as the warrant of arrest," said Vosloo.
The Metro Police would be helped in clamping down on court dodgers through the use of a number plate recognition system, which was being installed in the law enforcers' vehicles.
"The system will inform officers whether the specific vehicle owner has any outstanding warrants of arrest, enabling officers to select the vehicles they wish to stop in regard to this operation.
"We are also looking at whether we can clamp the wheels of parked cars whose owners, through the number plate recognition system, have been identified as having warrants of arrest issued in their names.
"The clamped vehicles will only be released once the owners have either appeared in court or paid their fines," he said.
Motorists wanting more information on outstanding traffic fines or warrants of arrest can contact the following numbers: (business or fleet owners) telephone: 012 358 7273, fax 012 359 6621, e-mail ninos@ tshwane.gov.za or joki@tshwane. gov.za
Other motorists: telephone 012 358 5308, 358 5321, 358 7151, 358 7153 or 358 7156.
Fines can be paid either at Rondalia Building, 174 Visagie Street; Centurion Council Offices, 100 Napier Street; or Station Square Building, Daan De Wet Nel Avenue, Akasia.
- This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on October 21, 2006