JMPD knows if you’ve been naughty or nice.

The Joburg metro police’s “zero tolerance campaign” has received mixed reactions from motorists – some are satisfied with the amplified visibility of police, while others are questioning the validity of arresting minor traffic offenders.

Launched at the end of October, JMPD Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the campaign had a three-pronged strategy.

“The first objective is to reduce the levels of contact and violent crimes committed, second, to decrease road carnage and fatalities, and thirdly to decrease firearm and liquor-related crimes,” he said.

Incorporated in the campaign was the identification of 10 hotspots where the prevalence of accidents and deaths were high.

These hotspots included the N1, the N12, the R511, Impala Road, Beyers Naudé Drive, Malibongwe Drive (formerly Hans Strijdom), Old Potch Road, William Nicol Drive, Kliprivier Road and Louis Botha Avenue.

Minnaar said an unacceptably high accident rate that claimed 196 lives between July and September this year had prompted the department to adopt a zero-tolerance approach in the hope of reducing the number of fatalities during the festive season.

“Traffic fines have not been enough of a deterrent for offenders so we have had to up our game by arresting violators,” he said.

But not all motorists are thrilled by the intensity of the campaign and some have slammed the metro police, saying arresting motorists for minor offences is unnecessary and that issuing a ticket would be a more appropriate measure.

In the past two weeks at least 17 motorists – including a mother with a 4-month-old baby – were arrested and charged with reckless and negligent driving, among others.

Responding to the arrest of motorists for minor offences, Ian Auret, chairperson of the Committee for Active Road Safety, said: “This is no way to get the co-operation of the public. There has to be a prioritisation for road offences and to arrest motorists willy-nilly for minor offences is deplorable.”

However, Minnaar said the metro police were entirely warranted in arresting motorists for minor offences because of the high number of deaths occurring on the roads.

“Our plan is to show no mercy because offences like speeding, drunken driving, fatigue, reckless and negligent driving, unroadworthy vehicles, overtaking when it’s dangerous to do so and dangerous pedestrian activity are all factors that contribute to the high incidence of accidents.

“More than 90% of accidents are attributed to people who have committed offences, hence we are now arresting these motorists and will continue to do so until the end of January,” he said.

Minnaar said a series of roadblocks would be held on a regular basis in areas targeting “roads where there are nightclubs, taverns, shebeens, the CBD, locations where there have been incidences of smash and grabs, and locations where there have been hijackings and heists”.

Using a hi-tech scanning device, motorists’ number plates are scanned and officers can instantly pick up a vehicle owner’s profile, including their home and work address, details on outstanding fines, summonses and warrants of arrest, driver’s licence validity and whether the vehicle has been stolen.

In addition to the scanning device, metro police at roadblocks will use the Mopho Touch – a device that reads fingerprints and is connected to the SAPS database to identify wanted criminals. The Drager, a hi-tech breathalyser, will also be used.

Minnaar warned that the JMPD would also be clamping down on by-law offenders. Urinating and drinking in public will earn offenders a R500 fine, while littering will result in a whopping R1 000 fine.