Following todays court outcome, whereby a Mr Stoychev has pleaded guilty to defeating the ends of justice by driving with false vehicle license plates, OUTA hereby announces that this outcome has nothing to do with non-payment of E-Tolls.
Obviously, SANRAL will milk the situation, and their behavior in this regard smacks of a highly opportunistic tactic, borne out of their desperation to try and create fear in the mind of road users who have not paid their e-toll bills.
The mere fact that they will capitalize on this case is an expression of their unethical tactics to highjack a case in which there has been an unlawful act by an irresponsible motorist, who used false number plates on his vehicle to try and escape the consequences of his wrongful behaviour. Clearly, because his reputation was at stake and he was apparently embarrassed at being caught, he was therefore in a somewhat vulnerable and weak bargaining position, which has seen him capitulate on his ‘outstanding’ e-toll bills situation.
The incident illustrates what OUTA has been saying all along; do not break the law by using cloned or false number-plates. Doing so will give Sanral an opening to effectively extort money out of you to pay off what OUTA maintains is an odious debt, overlaid on a fundamentally unlawful decision made by minister of Transport in 2008 to declare the Gauteng Freeway as a tolled road.
It is OUTA’s opinion that Sanral have seized on this incident and blown it out of all proportion to intimidate motorists. Since the e-toll scheme was lauched, 21-months ago, we know of no summons initiated by SANRAL or the NPA which seeks to address the wide-scale (over 1,6 million motorists) non-payment of e-tolls. OUTA has an open invitation to SANRAL and the Government prosecute its leadership, because our vehicles are legally licensed to use public roads, and we do not try to escape the just consequences of unlawful actions. Ironically, by exploiting the hapless Mr. Stoychev’s vulnerability, SANRAL is in fact the one who is trying to escape the just consequences of their own unlawful action of sneaking the e-toll decision past an unsuspecting public. It is a serious matter because they have shown gross contempt for constitutional values and principles, as stated in Section 195 of the Constitution, by not commencing the e-toll decision process back in 2007 with a proper, transparent, accountable and ethical public consultation process.
OUTA’s position is that the e-toll decision on the Gauteng Freeways remains an unlawful matter and that the burden of proof to show that it was lawful rests with SANRAL. The fact that they have not done so, despite an open invitation from many road users to try their luck by prosecuting them, speaks volumes.
Mr Stoychev was foolish to drive with fake registration plates and we will not allow his actions to make fools out of the law abiding citizens, or further encourage Sanral to undermine the rule of law by opportunistic and extortionist tactics. As far as we are concerned, all people driving with legal vehicle license registrations have nothing to worry about and should not feel compelled to pay their e-toll bills.