The Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) company says that e-toll users face being blacklisted if they fail to respond to demand letters and court summonses over unpaid bills.
According to a EWN, the collection company issues between 2,000 and 4,000 summonses per month, and has applied for 1,400 default judgments against motorists, which could lead to them being automatically blacklisted if granted.
Default judgments arise when a debtor does not respond to or defend a summons.
The ETC’s Coenie Vermaak told EWN that drivers would have received sufficient notice, firstly via SMS to settle their account. Following that, a letter of demand is then sent, and if ignored, it is followed by a summons themselves and, “then we apply to the courts for default judgment”.
IOL, reported last week that a Gauteng resident received a big surprise after discovering that he had been blacklisted for failing to pay his e-tolls. The motorist had tried to apply for credit when he discovered that he had been blacklisted for owing R60,000 in e-toll fees.
Civil society group Outa warned last week that the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) is pushing ahead with its plan to obtain default judgements against motorists who do not pay their e-tolls.
While a number of Gauteng motorists have chosen to simply ignore their e-toll bills in the past, Outa has warned that there can be severe consequences for motorists who have a default judgement granted against them.
By obtaining default judgments for the non-payment of e-tolls, motorists’ credit ratings may be affected, which makes it more difficult to obtain credit facilities, Outa said.
“In our opinion, Sanral is waging a dangerous war against the citizens of South Africa,” said Rudie Heyneke, Outa’s transport portfolio manager.
“We have seen instances where these default judgments were obtained for debt that had already prescribed.”
He added that default judgements were especially problematic where default judgments were obtained against motorists for vehicles that were not theirs, as others had cloned their registration plate.
Outa said it was important that motorists do not ignore any summonses that they receive. “If these are issued for unpaid e-tolls, they must act quickly,” it said.
“They can contact Outa’s offices for guidance on how to address the matter. By not responding to a summons, motorists open themselves up to default judgments and further legal actions that arise from this.
“It also important to note that the state is under no obligation to inform motorists once a default judgment has been made.
“They may only find out the next time they apply for credit, such as when attempting to take out a home loan. This can have a disastrous financial impact on households.”
The Gauteng and national government has continued to flip-flop on the future of e-tolls with no clarity on whether or not the tolling system will be scrapped.
In an interview with Independent Media in December 2018, Gauteng premier David Makhura said that e-tolling has no future in Gauteng and that he has president Cyril Ramaphosa’s ear on the matter.
“I am engaged in discussions with president Cyril Ramaphosa to scrap the e-tolls. I made a persuasive call to him,” he said.
“He understands that these e-tolls are burdensome to the working class owning cars and middle class.”