E-tolls: threats, intimidation and a climate of fear

Outa has accused Sanral of using deliberate intimidation to create a climate of fear amongst Gauteng road users in order to coerce them to register their cars and get e-tags.

The statement follows numerous reports of Sanral calling, emailing and SMSing motorists in a bid to collect on overdue e-toll fees – this, despite none of the untagged, unregistered road users being contacted having received a physical invoice from Sanral.

The alliance – headed by Wayne Duvenage, who has long fought the battle against Sanral’s e-tolling of Johannesburg freeways – has once again called on road users to excercise “moral courage” in standing against the system.

According to Outa, Sanral has spread misinformation on the consequences of not paying e-tolls, including that vehicle owners could be refused vehicle and drivers licence renewals if they have unpaid fees.

Sanral is also claiming a vindicated stance because of its court victories.

“Many believe that the court challenge on the unlawfulness of e-tolling has been lost, but this is not so. Outa’s past legal challenge was set aside due to the technicality that it was brought too late,” it said in a statement.

“Arguments pertaining to the lawfulness of Sanral’s conduct have yet to be ruled on, a situation that will arise when someone goes to court to defend themselves for non-payment of e-tolls.”

Heading back to court

Outa announced that it has decided to work with the first criminal prosecution (which will set the legal precedent) by providing legal expertise and arguments of unlawful conduct uncovered during prior cases.

Outa maintained that it was confident that prosecution of citizens for non-payment of e-tolls will fail, on the basis that Sanral’s case for e-tolling is unlawful because:

  • Sanral did not adequately inform the public.
  • Sanral did not conduct a proper public participation process as required by the Act.
  • The Government did not consider alternative funding mechanisms.
  • The decision was authorized without having sufficiently considered the facts and true costs of e-toll collection.
  • Gauteng’s e-toll plan, at its high costs of collection, is irrational.
  • E-tolling without public acceptance and commitment is unworkable.

“Until the court has definitively ruled on such a case, all that Outa can suggest at this stage of defiance, is that each individual must take personal responsibility for whatever consequences may flow from whatever personal conscientious decision they make,” the group said.

Wayne Duvenage
Wayne Duvenage

Passive resistance

The alliance reiterated that it is not calling for violence and destruction or theft of property – and has urged motorists not to antagonise police or provoke officials.

According to the group, passive resistance – which is peaceful and constructive, with respect for democracy and rule of law – is the manner which motorists should fight the system.

“Since neither the Constitutional Court nor the SCA decided the merits of whether e-tolling is lawful or not, this matter is still open for motorists to resist, by holding that e-tolling is in fact unlawful, until ruled otherwise in a court of law,” it said.

“It is Outa’s opinion that resisting the payment of e-tolls cannot even be referred to as civil disobedience because, in time, a strong possibility exists that the courts could very well decide that e-tolling is unlawful in a case where an individual successfully defends charges of failing to pay e-toll.”

Sanral had previously hit back at Duvenage, claiming that the activist was “playing in the mud”, and could not resist lashing out at the road company.

“He (Duvenage) has become an “expert” on this project, even as he sits outside Sanral,” said Sanral spokesman, Vusi Mona.

“But it doesn’t stop there. Even on matters judicial, he has firm views on how court rulings should go in spite of what judges have pronounced.”

Sanral said it remains confident in its ability to meet its debt obligations through e-tolling.

More on e-tolls and e-tags

Sanral is coming for your e-toll money

Sanral stands by e-tag sales figures

Sanral e-tag numbers a lie: Outa

E-tags: millions unsold

How many e-tags has Sanral really sold?

Sanral: Beat the rush for e-tags

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E-tolls: threats, intimidation and a climate of fear