The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) recently handed down a landmark ruling: private estates in South Africa are permitted to establish their own traffic rules. The court also ruled that housing estates will be allowed to issue their own traffic fines.

The case was a result of a resident of the sought-after golf estate on the North Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate, Niemesh Singh, claiming that speed trapping within the premises is illegal.

Previously, the Body Corporate issued three notices to Singh’s daughter for breaking the speed limit in the estate which resulted in a fine of R4 500 total.

Before the case went to the SCA, the KwaZulu-Natal High Court ruled that the estate failed to take the necessary legal steps required by the National Road Traffic Act to put up road signs and that only peace officers may issue fines.

However, the court of appeal didn’t agree with the ruling, and the case took a turn when the SCA ruled that the roads within the estate are not public roads, and are regulated by the rules that apply to private estates.

“This has been the historical position since the estate was first established. The non-owners who are permitted to enter the estate are persons who are there with the authority and permission of the owners, and are not to be regarded as forming part of the ‘public’ for the purposes of the definition of ‘public road’,” said Judge Ponnan.

According to Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal from LAW FOR ALL, it’s crucial that Body Corporates take notice of the ruling and ensure all property owners are made aware. “Essentially, the court found that residents who bought property within the estate are obligated to follow its rules and ensure that visitors are aware that the rules apply to them as well”.