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, according to civil society group Outa.
Default judgments arise when a debtor does not respond to or defend a summons.
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,” says 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.”
Outa also urged motorists to check with a credit bureau to see whether Sanral has taken a default judgment against them.
“In the event, this has occurred and they were not aware of it, they should consider having this judgment rescinded through the courts. By ignoring this, their credit ratings may be negatively affected,” it said.