Justice Project dismayed at proposed “special courts” for eToll

JOHANNESBURG – Justice Project South Africa is not in the least bit surprised to learn that SANRAL – a State Owned Company under the control of the National Department of Transport has approached the Department of Justice to discuss the possibility of establishing special courts for eToll dodgers.

We have repeatedly warned that trying to prosecute a million plus non-compliant “E-Road” users on a monthly basis will most certainly collapse South Africa’s Criminal Justice system and we note with interest that “The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the department of justice said they ‘could not speculate’ on whether the country’s legal system would be able to cope.”

What other answer does anyone realistically expect them to provide when it is a well-known fact that our legal system is groaning under the strain of the current workload?  However, even if they do establish special courts, it is still more than doubtful whether even these would be able to deal with the volume of “offenders” that can quite easily & reasonably be expected to accumulate.

What really disgusts us about this mooted action is that “special courts” have not to date been established for priority crimes, including but not limited to rape, murder, armed robbery, etc.  When limiting the concept of “special courts” to serious road crimes we take note that no such action is apparently being contemplated to effectively deal with such things as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Considering that driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs claims the lives of thousands of South Africans annually and drink driving cases rarely get finalised timeously, one would have thought this would have been prioritised.

Whilst we fully understand that SANRAL’s interests in eTolls far outweigh their interests in road safety, they were one of the government agencies that attended the recent National Road Safety Summit, whereat their leader, Nazir Alli called South African road users “lawless people who glorify breaking the law”.

The Department of Transport is clearly suffering from a chronic disconnect in terms of its priorities by chasing the collection of eTolls revenues and the prosecution of people who do not comply with this irrational and unjust law, above addressing the carnage on South Africa’s roads.

Then again, who should be in any way surprised by this, given their less than stunning track record in addressing road carnage in South Africa?

Howard Dembovsky

National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)

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