Mr Alli’s request to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on 15th October 2015, to sanction proposed regulations for the withholding of vehicle licences (in the case of outstanding e-toll bills), is clearly part of their coercive strategy to get motorists to start paying e-tolls or face the possibility of criminal prosecution for driving without a vehicle licence. OUTA believes there are serious consequences for the legitimacy of the state, if these regulations go ahead and believes Parliament should reject this proposal.
From OUTA’s analysis of SANRAL’s recently released annual report, it’s clear that SANRAL were only able to collect a paltry R1.1 Billion of the more than R9.95 Billion they had invoiced motorists for E-tolls during the financial period ending 31 March 2015. SANRAL’s annual report indicates that only R3.8 Billion of the R9.95 Billion that Sanral had invoiced motorists (i.e. 38%), meets the accounting standards as declarable revenue. The difference of R6.1 billion consists of e-toll revenues charged at the exhorbitant ‘Alternative Tariffs’ which were intended to coerce motorists to sign up at the lower e-tag rates, but which clearly did not have the desired impact. While SANRAL have not declared the R6,1 billion difference, they have retain this as outstanding debt which they intend to use as an official “write-off” during their forthcoming coercive ‘dispensation discount’ and threat of prosecution tactics.
OUTA believes however, that even the shortfal off R2,7 billion of the R3,8 billion declared in their annual report, will be extremely difficult to collect and that most of this will also have to be written off. “We are amazed that the Auditor General has allowed SANRAL to reflect this outstanding revenue as declarable and achievable,” says Wayne Duvenage, the Chairman of the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance. “No accounting firm worth their salt will allow a business to reflect 71% of outstanding revenue, a lot of which is over a year old, as being achievable. This in turn raises serious questions about SANRAL’s accounting practices and requires answers from the SANRAL Board who will have signed these financial statement off.”
“It is OUTA’s opinion that if SANRAL is able to convince Parliament to approve their regulatory changes, this could lead South Africa to become the first country in the world to attempt to criminalize over a million of its own citizens for their conscientious objections to the unlawful and irrational conduct of an organ of state. We maintain our position that the e-toll scheme and the decision to toll Gauteng freeways was an unlawful and irrational decision,” says Duvenage.
OUTA’s expanding role as a non-profit civil action organization has progressed towards a membership-based contribution model that sustainably facilitates a growing mandate from the public to become an effective Civil Society instrument against not just e-tolls, but against the individuals responsible for corruption and tax abuse in South Africa. As such, OUTA has a growing contributing membership base which has enabled OUTA to employ and work with a variety of legal and other specialist persons to develop a multi-pronged defense strategy to combat SANRAL’s coercive attempts.