Following OUTA’s call last week to society for help in raising R1 million to get its case to the Supreme Court of Appeal in September 25th, “Just five days later we are able to announce that over R1.35 million was raised from the public, plus a further R1 million contribution on Friday from the DA,” said Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s chairperson.
“We certainly did not expect this significant answer to our call and want to thank each and every person and organisation that took the time to contribute,” said Duvenage, who went on to say that “the DA’s injections were a huge and significant boost for us.”
It has taken OUTA a year to raise R8,4 million (R6,7 million of which came from 220 businesses). So to raise almost R2,3 million from society in less than a week was a massive sign of support for the anti-eToll cause. “We were also moved by the many small value donations, some made as cash deposits. There were also numerous businesses that came to the fore with many R10,000 donations and a number of larger deposits, one as high as R100,000.”
Following this surge of support, OUTA is convinced more than ever before of society’s opposition to eTolling and now moves forward on a high as it prepares the heads of argument for the forthcoming court battle. This raises another concern whereby SANRAL has indicated its desire to try and launch eTolls sometime in July. “We are in for an interesting period if SANRAL tries to introduce their toll plans, just two months prior to the court challenge which could very well rule that eTolling must be halted,” said Duvenage. “SANRAL could find themselves in a quandary of having to refund customers, or press on with another appeal, in an ever-growing environment of rejection by society.”
OUTA is also concerned that the authorities are simply ignoring the increasing level of rejection of eTolls. “The evidence was clear from the three public engagement sessions held in November 2012, along with the 11,000 submissions to regulations at that time. Combine this with the many entities opposed to the eToll plan; COSATU, OUTA, all political parties (barring the ANC), major religious groups, the Black Management Forum, the JCCI, BUSA, Afriforum, the SA Local Government Association and so many others, and you have a situation of sheer blinded ignorance if the authorities believe that they have some degree of support for their plan,” said Duvenage. “Add to this the stay away from SANRAL’s call to purchase eTags, despite a multi-million rand advertising campaign, one wonders what more needs to be done to have them think that maybe, just maybe, something is seriously wrong with their plan.”
OUTA urges the authorities to contemplate the unintended consequences of its actions, which aim to force an unjust and irrational system onto its citizens. “This is not the time to test the waters on matters of this magnitude,” said Duvenage. “Our economy is in a fragile state and our credit ratings are going south. Let’s face it, the Government can ill afford to drive another wedge between itself and society.”