On Sunday 22 December 2013, SANRAL launched yet more threats against motorists over e-tolls which contained factually inaccurate information and showed a scant understanding of e-tolling processes.
“The provisions of the SANRAL Act and e-road regulations are not a wish-list – they are the law and for Vusi Mona to claim otherwise is simply bizarre, to say the least,” said JPSA Chairman, Howard Dembovsky. “Regulation 6(5) of the e-road regulations is not only clear, but prescriptive. It says that SANRAL must issue an invoice to any person from whom it requires payment of outstanding e-tolls,” he said. “The word “must” in legislation is not an ambiguous word in any way; it is a prescriptive word which places a duty on the party against whom it is applied,” Dembovsky commented.
In response to Vusi Mona’s statement that “it is regrettable that there are some organisations which are still contesting the legality of e-tolling outside court processes”, JPSA pointed out that it has challenged the Department of Transport to obtain a declaratory order deeming the provisions of the e-tolling laws to be valid in light of the “mistakes” contained in the e-toll tariff gazette. “If SANRAL chooses not to obtain this clarity, they run the risk of forcing citizens to approach the courts to do so,” Dembovsky said. “In the long run, this could cost SANRAL much more than fixing the error now. But it has never been SANRAL’s style to admit to being wrong.”
Dembovsky described Mona’s threats that “Getting a job, renting a vehicle or accommodation, getting a loan, being a company director, getting promoted – all are directly and negatively affected” by non-payment of e-tolling as both inaccurate and juvenile. “Is that the best SANRAL can do? Their attitude is loathsome, especially in light of the fact that the AARTO Act decriminalises road traffic offences which includes non-payment of tolls. AARTO makes provision under charge codes 3820 and 3821 under Schedule 3 of the Act to deal with these matters.”
Dembovsky said that AARTO was in force in a large proportion of the jurisdictions the GFIP passes through and this anomaly was just one of the questions posed to the Department of Justice, Department of Transport, NPA and SANRAL in the JPSA’s letter dated 26 November 2013. If AARTO is applied to speed fines on the respective Freeways then AARTO applies to all minor infringements such as non-payment of toll fees, and the DoT will know that AARTO specifically decriminalises traffic violations and no one can be guilty of a criminal offence for non-payment as SANRAL claims. “JPSA is still awaiting clarification of the issues raised,” Dembovsky said. “In the time being, we will not relent in exposing both SANRAL’s incompetent handling of the e-tolling issue, and Vusi Mona’s constant misleading threats against the public,” he concluded.
SANRAL’s media release of 22 December 2013 is available here.
National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)