So, I got a R1000 ($72) (summons, which I had to sign for) fine today, because my car’s license had expired – at the end of last month already, and while South African law allows for a 21-day-grace-period after expiry to settle the amount, it means diddly-squat if you thought the license was only due at the end of this month.
The one thing that I don’t understand though, is why the hell the authorities decided to do away with the notifications of pending expiry in the first place. I have heard of two people this morning who suffered similar fates – My uncle’s car’s license had expired, as had his wife’s which cost them R3710 (± $265) at the end of the day. My other friend Collette, was informed by someone at her child’s school that her license had expired, five months before. Where she was lucky is that she was pulled off by the cops twice in that time, and not once did they tell her that the license renewal was overdue.
Why couldn’t that have been me this morning? I was all spritely and happy to be coming to work this morning. Really, I was full of positive energy, which was sapped in a nanosecond by Officer What’s-his-name. I know he was only doing his (often thankless) job, but I am so far up Shit Creek, having lost the paddle months ago. I said to Aunty Carol this morning that I am so tired of trying to make ends meet and just when, by some miracle, I seem to be doing so, some idiot moves the ends.
Great, now I am saddled with not only the license renewal fee, but penalties and a fine – (I’m looking at about R1700 now ($120)), which I want to mention has some incorrect information on it – my name is wrong and the address noted is non-existent, but according to my attorney-friend, Lisa, spelling errors don’t void a summons.
In my not-at-all-educated-with-regards-to-the-law understanding, this effectively boils down to the fact that the whole thing can be filled out with flawed info, you have to pay up. I’m wondering what the literacy rate is for traffic officers these days, because when my dad was in the force, they were super-strict about capturing data correctly. How else are they going to deliver a warrant of arrest (if it had to come to that) if the address listed on the summons doesn’t even exist? It’s just a question – feel free to crucify me, if you feel you must!
Sure, I can write a representation letter, pleading my case, and I will very likely receive a concession on the amount owing for the fine, but it doesn’t help when Yours Truly is living literally from pay cheque to pay cheque, turning every cent over – sometimes without much success because two to three weeks after the cheque has cleared, there are sometimes Zero Rands in my account. Had it not been for my colleague, Nicolette, with whom I get a lift to work most days, I probably would be without a job because there isn’t money to fuel the (now unlicensed) car. Last week I had to rely on someone else’s charity to go to the doctor and get medication, because I didn’t have disposable cash of my own to do so, and surprise, surprise, the medical insurance, like the rest of my life, has gone for a ball of shit.
The license is going to be paid on Thursday, and I will go to the traffic department in person on Friday to hand in my (what I’m sure the people that deal with the fines, must think is ‘yet another sob-‘) story. Who knows? Maybe by some mystical magic, things will get sorted out. Either way, I’ll keep you posted – either about the successful outcome, or I will be regaling you all with tales of mouldy bread, toilet water, cold showers and candles, because I seriously have no idea where I am supposed to find this extra money, without cutting on the essentials.
Time will tell…