Justice Project expresses dismay with response from lawyers after referring questions to gain clarity on eToll

On Friday 29 November, Justice Project South Africa made the media aware of the fact that we had instructed our attorneys to seek clarity from various government departments with respect to the threatened prosecution of eToll transgressors – following various confusing and often conflicting statements by various members of SANRAL and the Department of Transport having been reported by the media. [Read the letter: Justice Project South Africa seeks clarity with regards to eToll Prosecutions]

A reply to our letter (attached) was received by our attorneys at 10:17 on Friday 29 November, from Werksmans Attorneys – acting on behalf of SANRAL wherein we were told inter alia that:

  • “our client is not in a position to clarify matters that have been reported by members of the media – such clarity should be sought from the reporter/s concerned”;
  • All of the information that JPSA seeks is contained in the various Government Gazettes surrounding eTolls; and
  • “Such an application is an outright abuse of process and an appropriate costs award will be requested by our client at the hearing of any application brought by your client.”

Their letter was copied to the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and the National Director of Public Prosecutions and no other responses were received, therefore we can only assume that those departments were likewise being represented by Werksmans Attorneys.  The letter is attached hereto.

Whist JPSA is not in the least bit disused to being outwardly insulted by SANRAL we cannot fathom why it would be that they and their lawyers would seek to completely fail to answer a single question and further threaten us in writing; since all we are doing is seeking clarity from the parties who are directly involved in eTolls as to what processes will be used in the prosecution of eToll transgressions

Apart from the fact that motorists are not legally obliged to get an eTag or indeed to register with SANRAL, none of the information we require clarity on is contained in any of the Government Gazettes referred to and furthermore, it is grossly unreasonable, not to mention sarcastic and childish, of SANRAL and its attorneys to suggest that we should ask journalists to clarify reports which have resulted directly from statements made by Nazir Alli, Vusi Mona and Dipuo Peters, amongst others.

If they are suggesting that the various parties have been “misquoted” then they should say so and rather clarify the situation themselves, since they are in the best position to do so.

Due to the fact that people are being threatened with the imposition of criminal records against them, we feel that it is not in the least bit unreasonable of us to seek clarity on how and when this will happen and we cannot fathom how asking such a question could be construed as an “abuse of process”.  We furthermore take the threat of “requesting the court to award a costs order” against us as yet another clear demonstration of the dictatorial bullying tactics SANRAL has adopted throughout this process.

Effectively, what SANRAL and their attorneys – and the other Government departments by their silence – are saying is “you don’t need to know how we will criminalise you; just that we will” and this is not how JPSA expects these entities to act in a democratic society.

As a result, and because we are reasonable people, we have asked our legal team to again write to the various parties to request a proper, intelligible and sensible response from them.  Should we again get no joy from doing so, we will be left with no alternative but to consider approaching the High Court for clarity on this matter.

“Should we be forced to approach the High Court, we are reasonably confident that the court will not punish us for simply asking for clarity over statements which have resulted in an enormous amount of misinformation being disseminated by SANRAL and others,” said JPSA’s National Chairman, Howard Dembovsky.

“We do not capitulate to threats of dire consequences aimed at shutting us up and SANRAL and others would need to explain to the court why it is that they feel that the prosecution processes surrounding eTolls should be deemed to be a ‘State Secret’, should they choose to oppose the application as has been suggested,” Dembovsky said.

Just because we are an organisation with sparse financial resources does not mean that we will simply run off to the ‘naughty corner’ when SANRAL and their attorneys threaten us with dire financial consequences for asking simple questions which have not seen a single satisfactory answer being provided.


Best Regards,

Howard Dembovsky

National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)

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