Private estates in South Africa are entitled to establish and enforce their own traffic rules and issue traffic fines.
This was the finding of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) which ruled on a long-running case in which Niemesh Singh, a resident of Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate, claimed that speed trapping in the estate was unlawful.
Due to various factors in our beloved country, such as safety and peace of mind, secure estates have become more and more popular over the years. While most of us would consider it common sense that it is inappropriate to drive 60km/h or more inside a closed off area where children could be running around, the enforceability and consequences of not abiding by the estate’s road rules have been brought into questioning. In this specific case, Mr. Singh’s daughter was caught on 3 different occasions exceeding the speed limit. The matter was taken to court and the final finding was that: “Private estates in South Africa are entitled to establish and enforce their own traffic rules and issue traffic fines.”
With the above-mentioned in mind, it leaves room for debate with regards to who is to be held accountable. According to the court finding, the only people that can be held accountable are the homeowners of the private estate because they are the parties that have voluntarily entered into an agreement with the estate to abide by its rules. What about non-owners who have been granted access to the estate? Does this mean that the homeowner will be held accountable for his/her guests’ transgressions? The judgement makes it clear that the only persons who can be held liable are the residents and not their visitors.
It is unfortunate when the safety and well-being of a community is disregarded not only by visitors but also the community’s residents. What we need to remember is the fact that the private estates do not conjure up these rules because they feel like their rule book doesn’t hold enough volume, it is there to protect all members who choose to enter the estate. “Living is easy with eyes closed.” says John Lennon on more than one occasion. The approach of “it won’t happen to me” is a foolish one because an accident can happen in the blink of an eye and then it is too late. A simple solution is to simply abide by the rules.