Two years ago, in early 2014, Sanral threatened the public with court action for non-payment of e-tolls. For political and practical reasons, they decided not to proceed with this threat, but unwisely they chose to press on with their rapidly failing e-Toll scheme. Fraught with inefficiencies and cumbersome processes, the public backlash and defiance against the irrational system grew and compliance subsided from around 40% in mid-2014 to around well below 20% by the end of 2015.
Today, despite the fact that over two million motorists refuse to pay for the e-toll scheme, Sanral has decided to commence with the issuing of Magistrate and High Court summonses against less than 0.3% of e-Toll defaulters. This is nothing short of state coercion and victimisation of its citizens. The extent of this unjust and gross action by the state is unheard of since the dawn of our new democracy, and compares to the enforcement of the pass laws under the apartheid Group Areas Act.
“We regard this as an onslaught against the people’s freedom of movement and participative action in decisions that impact them,” says Wayne Duvenage, the Chairman of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA). “The Minister would be wise to instruct Sanral to desist from this crass behaviour.”
To date, several OUTA members have received High Court summonses for amounts ranging between R400 000 and R8 million. OUTA’s lawyers have filed notices of intention to defend these matters, on behalf of our members, with the North Gauteng High Court and a trial of this nature could possibly take years to finalise.
It is OUTA’s opinion that the South African Government, through SANRAL, have instituted the biggest case of state coercion and victimisation against its citizens in our new democracy. This action by SANRAL will further anger the Gauteng motorists, and just as we have seen over the past three years, the public will continue to remain resilient in the defence of their rights on this issue.
OUTA maintains Sanral’s claim that the courts having ruled in their favour on this matter, is pure fallacy. The fact is that the Supreme Court of Appeal set aside the e-Toll review judgment in 2013, and stated very clearly that the public have every right to raise a collateral (defensive) challenge against the scheme, if and when the state intends to coerce the public to comply, such as that which Sanral is currently undertaking.
OUTA is well prepared for this legal challenge, with past court papers and new strong evidence which has come to the fore since then. We will prove why and how Sanral have run roughshod over the public’s constitutional rights and other legal requirements when declaring Gauteng’s freeways as tolled roads. In short, it is not unlawful to not pay for e-tolls.
To assist the public, we have also placed guidelines here on how to launch a defensive challenge, should the public be summonsed and wish to defend themselves, or alternatively, to have OUTA assist them in defence of Sanral’s summonses.