Why you really need a dashcam in South Africa

Image: Twitter.

Dashcams are all the craze in South Africa.

These cameras are priced from R 550. It is attached to a car’s bonnet and records what happens on the road that the car is driving along. Through dashcam footage, drivers have disputed traffic fines, recorded bad driving and corrupt cops trying to elicit bribes.

Lowvelder previously shared dashcam footage of an alleged hijacking:

Yet some drivers worry that using a dashcam may be illegal. Lowvelder addresses some key issues.

  • Can dashcam footage be used to dispute a traffic fine? 

A speeding ticket can be disputed with proof from a dashcam.

According to Mr Simon du Plessis from Medaco – a service provider which administers traffic fines on a provincial level – it can.

Read: Everything you must know about speeding fines and cameras

  • How?

If you have been caught speeding and you believe in your innocence, you may present your case to the provincial traffic department. “If you can prove that you did not speed, the fine may be withdrawn,” said du Plessis. “This can be done by visiting our offices or sending us an e-mail,”* he said. He added that this only applies to traffic fines not yet converted into summons.

Summons.

Once an alleged offender has been summoned to appear in court for not adhering to the rules of the road, he may approach the traffic department or the state prosecutor dealing with his case. “This must be done three weeks before you are due to appear in court,” he said.

Once the case is enrolled, the court will decide about the admissibility and relevance of dashcam footage.

* Medaco’s offices are located at 15 Van Rensburg Street, Mbombela. E-mails may be sent to simond@medacocapital.com. “Include a reference number,” du Plessis said.

Read: Are these traffic traps legal?

  • When is using dashcam footage illegal?

The distribution of dashcam footage is what causes trouble.

Having recorded what happens on a public road is not illegal per se. However, when the video material has been edited or cut and no longer represents a true account of what had happened, it becomes risky.

Examples include online naming and shaming others for contravening traffic laws or driving recklessly.

By uploading a video representing what happened in part, you expose only the alleged wrongdoer’s deed. Your footage does not reflect what happened before or after that. This may exclude a reasonable defence from the public eye, making the driver seem guilty when there is an excuse for his behaviour.

The same goes for other alleged crimes caught on camera. If it transpires that the alleged wrongdoer was in fact innocent, you may face a civil claim. In a worst case scenario, a criminal defamation claim may be brought against you.

Read more on the legalities of social media.

 

 

 

  AUTHOR
Helene Eloff
Court Reporter

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