September 3, 2011

How (not) to Pay your Traffic Fines in South Africa

I remember when I got my first speeding ticket here in South Africa. I didn't mind the ticket so much as having to figure out yet another new thing - how to pay traffic fines. I also didn't like the chastising I was sure to get from Noisette about "paying no attention and always driving too fast." Of course he hadn't received any tickets yet.

Or so I thought. However, unbeknownst to him or me, the company his car is being leased through was busily accumulating an entire file of fines, for some obscure reason waiting until now to present them to him in a tidy stack, six in total, for ZAR375 each. (This doesn't include the two he got driving our rental car in George, where we got first caught coming from the airpor, and then again going back just in the instant where he said "wait... we should slow down somewhere around here, that's where they got us last time.")

So I was sitting here this morning with a bunch of traffic fines to pay. The agency you pay them to is called AARTO and you can set them up as a recipient through Internet Banking. For some reason our move to South Africa has promoted me to being in charge of paying bills, previously Noisette's domain. I know vaguely how this happened - the lady from the bank (who has the posh title "private banker" but mostly distinguishes herself by not being available when we need her) was showing us the intricacies of internet banking, and Noisette was either not there or not paying attention while I, always eager to learn, committed it all to memory. I swear to you, he is better at playing "helpless spouse" than many women I know! (Just for the record, he now has eight SA traffic fines against my two; I had more of them in Kansas, but only because whenever he got caught, his German accent invariably got him off the hook by discussing unlimited speed on the Autobahn with the officer in charge). 

No problem, I thought, I'll just enter these fines quickly and be done. But of course I should have known better - this is South Africa! I got the first one paid, then pressed "submit" on the second one, just to get an error message that two identical charges could  not be paid on the same day. What now? No problem, I thought, I'll just future date the rest of the charges. So once again I entered the 20-or-so-digit reference number, together with tomorrow's date, but now a new error message flashed: "You cannot change the reference number for future dated payments." Huh? 

So much for checking this off my list quickly. Instead, I've put reminders on my calendar for the next 6 days. I will make it a ritual to start my day with a cup of coffee and a traffic fine. I'm thinking you might also be able to pay your fines at the post office, but that's a place I usually try to avoid. I've also just now found a website called, but that involves a registration process I'm sure will require a South African ID number I don't have and a credit card fraud protection process that will make me want to rip my hair out, so I'll rather go with what I know.

Once again, a 5-minute task in another world has become a  6-day project here in South Africa.


cat said...

Payfine is a disaster too! And then I found the "magic" way to pay them. I bank with Standard bank and while paying other stuff on Internet baking I saw button that shows "pay fines" , clicked it and there it was, one click further and payed! Not sure you have a SA bank account but check your internet banking.

Jozie Days said...

I found the best way is to draw cash at an ATM and head over to the ABSA in Fourways, fill in a deposit slip with the 20 digit fine number, stand in the queue and get a receipt. I did try to register on the pay fines site - but with no SA Id it was not possible. Just wait until you get a fine from KwaZulu Natal! I had to get a money order and send it via registered post to them. This involves going to the post office - which is one of my least favourite places. They have a 'Zero Tolerance' policy and every year when we go to Durban on holiday we get a fine! We call them our 'holiday snaps' Ha ha!

Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane said...

And then they say expat life is so exotic.

Sine said...

cat - funny, I just saw that option on the Standard Bank website after I paid the last installment (there were six!). A colleague had told my husband to use Standard Bank and how great it was, and I thought big deal, what's so great about internet banking, and now I know what he must have meant. I don't think it'll work though for his fines, since his car is not registered via his ID but through his company. Might work for mine though, so now I have something to look forward to :-)

Bruce Garrick said...

The other alternative is to get the great eBook titled "How to Legally to get off your speeding fines" written by Dennis Jackson, an ex Traffic Chief. Loads of fines are simply not valid for various reasons. The book explains simply and effectively what to look out for and how to handle it. Save yourself a bundle of cash AND the frustration of trying to pay online! It's saved me a few times already. The book is on his website:

Distrito de Agapeama said...

Fines starting with 02-4024 sent out from June 2010 are unlawful!


Good luck!

W. A. Jeffrey said...

Sometimes I wonder if the first they do when designing these systems is ask themselves "how can we make this as time consuming and annoying as possible?" Then you are so glad to finally get through it that you forget the ridiculous fine in the first place.