OUTA’s recommended steps a motorist receiving a Letter of Demand should take.
Some members of the public have begun to receive written letters of demand from SANRAL’s collections company Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) and have asked for OUTA’s advice on what to do. Herewith some input and guidelines from our perspective in dealing with such a situation.
A letter of demand is not a summons and is not an official initiation of a court proceeding. It is merely a low commitment step that does not officially initiate legal proceedings, but it is another step which we believe is part of SANRAL’s tactics to coerce motorists into accepting their irrational scheme.
It is our opinion that the public should not to let SANRAL or ETC’s letter of demand go unanswered, but to send a reply to the issuer of the letter, requesting some or all of the following information and documentation, their response to which can or may be used by you in your defence, if indeed they proceed to summons you for non-payment:
- A copy of the written mandate to act on behalf of SANRAL (Pty) Ltd.
(A mandate determines the ambit of an agent’s authority to act on behalf of another person. This is relevant to determine to what extent you can or cannot negotiate or exchange information with this person.)
- Proof of registration at the Council for Debt Collectors in terms of Act 114 of 1998.
(According to the Debt Collection Act, a person collecting debt in the manner ETC are, on behalf of SANRAL, is required to be a registered debt collector. We have not been able to locate any registration documentation of ETC with the Council for Debt Collectors.)
- The relevant legislation that is being relied upon (articles, sections & sub-sections) to show your liability towards SANRAL.
(If one is to contest a matter or make an informed decision as to one’s liability, you are required to know which parts of legislation is being relied upon to establish liability.)
- Proof of ownership of the vehicle that allegedly used the toll road.
(It is prudent to determine whether the vehicle they allege belongs to you does in fact belong to you. Many road users are receiving invoices for vehicles that do not belong to them.)
- A copy of the notice(s) and demand(s) alleged to have been sent and issued as well as confirmation of the date(s) on which the said notice(s) and demand(s) was sent and issued.
(If you are alleged to wilfully be in arrears and ETC/SANRAL have little patience left with you, it is wise to determine whether the alleged arrear amounts have in fact previous been brought to your attention via registered post or another medium you accepted.)
- Confirmation of the date(s), time(s) and location(s) of the e-toll gantries that were allegedly passed under.
(As it has been uncovered that the equipment used to determine that a certain vehicle passed under a certain gantry at a certain time, has not been approved, verified, certified or re-certified in South Africa, it is questionable whether the information supplied by SANRAL is reliable. There are enormous amounts of motorists that have complained that their accounts are incorrect. There is also the public knowledge of an inquest into a fatal vehicle accident on the Gauteng Freeway between Mr Duduzane Zuma and Mr Vusi Dlamini on 31 January 2014, wherein SANRAL’s e-toll gantry records of the respective driver’s vehicle movements and positions on that day, as provided by SANRAL’s records, were ruled as incorrect and inadmissible in the inquest.)
- Proof of the offer to for a 60% discount on the outstanding balance.
(One can only accept an offer once it has been offered. If the offer has not come to your attention it is prudent to determine the date the offer was made to you to determine whether you have had sufficient and/or equal time to consider the offer of you choose to.)
- Confirmation that the said 60% discount has not prescribed.
(Details regarding the cut off date for the 60% discount; Many persons have received letter of demand prior to the discount date having come to an end.)
- Confirmation of the date when the letter of demand was dispatched and the necessary proof thereof.
(We have received information of persons receiving these letters which are dated weeks earlier than the date of the letter having been dispatched, according to the registered post notification slip, leaving them with no time to respond as the final dates for a response have lapsed according to the letter.)
- Confirmation whether the amounts claimed is inclusive of any additional costs such as collection costs.
(It is prudent to determine the claim that you are liable for certain amounts is inclusive or exclusive of any additional costs, fees etc.)
- Confirmation that the account where payment has requested to be deposited into, belongs to SANRAL.
(We have received information and investigated fraudulent scam schemes to get members of the public to settle outstanding e-toll bills with them.)