Even though Gauteng Premier David Makhura announced last week that a review panel has been set up to assess the social-economic impact of etolls in the province, roads agency Sanral is forging ahead with the clamping down of defaulters.
It came to light this morning that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has appointed two senior prosecutors to proceed with prosecutions for the non-payment of e-tolls.
The NPA’s Nathi Mncube told EWN that the prosecutors will take on 40 test cases, and “they will take the cases to court as and when they feel ready.”
Prior to the announcement, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) raised their concern over the proposed prosecution of non-paying etoll users.
“OUTA expresses concern that any attempts by Sanral to proceed with prosecuting freeway users could derail the new engagement initiative by Premier Makhura. In this regard, OUTA calls on Sanral to respond by indicating to society if it will suspend any plans that it (or the NPA) may have, to prosecute freeway users who have not paid their e-toll bills, until the outcome of the Premier’s initiative is concluded.”
After the announcement was made that the NPA will indeed be handling defaulters, Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) said the appointment of the prosecutors is hardly surprising, as it is part of the usual tactics by Sanral.
“SANRAL’s e-tolls “marketing strategy” has always involved a strong element of fear mongering by threatening people with criminal records and other life-changing consequences for resisting their unjust and unduly expensive system of e-tolling and simply cannot hope to get anywhere near to anything even remotely resembling “compliance” without it,” they said in a media statement.
“Anyone who thought that SANRAL and the NPA would have any regard or respect for ‘due process’ was clearly fooling themselves and this is precisely why JPSA greeted the announcement with cautions optimism. Both SANRAL and the NPA are now making a mockery of that process.”
Premier Makhura announced 10 names for the review panel, with another five members to be confirmed at a later stage. The panel will compile monthly reports, which will then be submitted to the Gauteng legislature, and the final report by will be presented by end of November.