Stunning developments from the Pretoria High Court on Thursday will leave millions of motorists in Mzansi jumping for joy, after a judge ruled that the controversial AARTO laws and accompanying demerit system was ‘unconstitutional’.

AARTO laws declared ‘invalid’ – here’s what it means

The new rules for driving, which were set to take full effect in July 2022, will now have to be completely rewritten, with civil society groups pushing for more consultations and engagements with the public this time around.

Demerit system ‘will need a rewrite’

The AARTO demerit system would add points to your drivers license for each traffic offence you commit. Once you have reached a certain total, your license can be suspended. Repeat offenders would eventually be banned completely. A trial period has been running in Gauteng, with mixed results.

However, following a heap of pressure from the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, Judge Basson ruled in their favour – ordering the Transport Ministry to cover the legal costs of OUTA.

AARTO in the mud

For now, AARTO laws cannot proceed until they are lawfully revised. It’s likely this verdict will be appealed however, and a bitter judicial battle is set to follow. Either way, the demerit system’s launch date is set to be delayed.

“Judge Annali Basson found in favour of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) and agreed with OUTA’s position that the legislation unlawfully intrudes upon the exclusive executive and legislative competence of the local and provincial governments envisaged in the Constitution.”

“OUTA believes that AARTO in its current format does nothing to improve road safety, nor does it reduce the scourge of road fatalities in South Africa. We are satisfied that the judgment will be sending government back to the drawing board. This time around, we trust the relevant departments will engage meaningfully with civil society.”

“These pieces of traffic legislation are unconstitutional and will also not assist with the curbing of road traffic fatalities in South African. The court has also ordered the Transport Minister to pay our legal costs.”

OUTA statement

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