Wheel clamps are often used in an illegal parking situation, in order to deal with the traffic violations of municipal by-laws. Punishment for parking illegally is therefore not being able to move the vehicle. Because it is often used as a quick, secure and effective way to immobilize vehicles as a way for them to ‘pay on the spot’ for illegal parking, many wheel clampers take advantage to make ‘easy money’. As a driver, it is therefore important to know your rights where wheel clamping is concerned.

In South Africa, wheel clamping laws addresses vehicle towing and clamped in an impound, car owners’ rights if their vehicle is damaged during the process of being clamped or unclamped, and temporary parking when offloading items. CarZar informs you about South Africa’s wheel clamping law.

Firstly, if you have never experienced the steel, yellow, round-plate wheel clamp before, here is what it does:
  • The clamp is locked over a tyre.
  • Prevents the car from being driven.
  • Keeps the car paralyzed until a fine payment is made.

Traffic Departments in Cape Town have been commanded to clamp less illegally-parked vehicles, in order to avoid putting drivers in risky situations – especially female drivers. However, not all South African provinces use wheel clamping.

South Africa’s wheel clamping laws has taken a turn for Cape Town.

Cape Town’s municipal by-law has implemented ‘Section 21’ companies with rights to wheel clamp vehicles that are curbside-parked illegally within the CBD. Illegal parkers who have had their wheel clamped will only have the yellow plate unlocked and removed, once that have paid a fine. The fine is set to be occasionally determined by the council. However, drivers have been given the right to have warning signs of ‘illegal parking leading to wheel clamping’, visibly placed around the city.

Wheel clamping is common when private properties are involved.

Before parking on private property such as the University of Cape Town or companies with open parking, it is important to note that if your are not a student at the University or do not work at the company, you do not have any rights to park on the property, and should therefore seek public parking spaces. However, if your vehicle displays a ‘disabled’ badge or marked as an ‘emergency’ car, it cannot be clamped.

With the city divided into six zones, the City Centre of Cape Town itself has more than 70 automatically-recording cameras; while television screens are surveilled by operators who immediately notify standby security teams.

South Africa’s wheel clamping law has been adjusted for safety.

Due to safety risks, vehicle wheels will only be clamped if a parking marshal is present and waits for the owner to return in order to unclamp upon payment. The minimum fine clamp is generally R50.00; however, wheel clamping fees are not fixed. Clamp victims may receive payment back, providing they have a valid excuse for remaining in the parking bay longer than the indicated time.

Public spaces in South African provinces, such as Durban and Bloemfontein, do not clamp. Most vehicles causing obstruction to traffic are simply towed and impounded, with a general towing fee of R220.00, as well as a fine fee depending on where the vehicle was parked. Vehicles parked on illegal public spots, receive fines. However, clamping is an exception if vehicles are illegally parked on private company grounds.

Here are CarZar’s guidelines on what you should do if your wheel gets clamped:
  • Remain calm.
  • Do not remove the wheel clamp: This is a criminal offence.
  • Call the number on the notice: Inquire about releasing the clamp.
  • You have the right to see the clamper’s authorisation license to clamp.
  • Contact the police authorities if the clamper cannot produce a valid license.
  • You are obliged to pay the fine, if clamped by an authorised wheel clamping company.
  • You have the right to legally claim clamping fine back, if the release cost is excessive or wheel clamping warning sign is not clearly presented.
It is your responsibility to ensure you consult a lawyer before spending large amounts on a law suite.

Why take the risk and park in an area where you could possibly get clamped? If you are not sure whether you are allowed to park on a particular spot or not, rather park at a guaranteed public parking area.

The above information, as retrieved from IOL, is simply a guide and does not change any laws, rules and regulations, as stipulated in the South African National Road Traffic Act or National Road Traffic Regulations.

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