The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) says it never intended to mislead the public with its advertising – explaining that it is difficult to audit the exact figures.
The group was ordered to pull a number of adverts after the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa ruled against it on three complaints.
The complaints pointed out that Sanral’s purported e-tag sales, and claims of savings to e-tagged motorists, were unsubstantiated and false. Sanral was unable to provide independently audited figures to defend its claims.
“As Sanral we are extremely aware of the scrutiny our advertising is exposed to and as a result we continuously strive to provide information which we believe is truthful and accurate,” said head of communications Vusi Mona.
“Sanral has no intention to mislead the public. We take note of all conditions of the law and will continue to comply.”
Sanral aimed to clarify “sensationalised” reports on e-tag sales by clearly defining its terminology in relation to the tags:
- E-tag sales do not refer to registrations – it merely refers to e-tags being sold, which might or might not include the tags ‘’sold’’ by the key account holders*, and/or e-tag sales at retail outlets – e-tags ‘’sold’’ does not mean it is necessarily registered on the e-toll system;
- Registrations do not just refer to vehicles fitted with e-tags – it can be any vehicle that is registered an e-toll account, with or without an e-tag, and might or might not include exempt vehicles;
- E-tags taken up refer to e-tags registered on the e-toll system, and might or might not include e-tags taken up by key account holders, registered on their system, but not necessarily registered on the e-toll system, and might or might not include e-tags ‘’sold’’ at the retailers, again that might not be linked to a vehicle or registered on the e-toll system;
Sanral admitted that its terminology may be confusing, which it said its detractors were using to question its honesty.
The confusion in tallying exact figures is further compounded by a number of factors related to the tagging process – including the selling, but not linking of e-tags; re-opening of accounts; and other internal management processes.
“The accusation that Sanral is dishonest about the e-tag figures is concerning to us and we take it very seriously,” Mona said.
In view of the ASA ruling, it would mean that all figures released by Sanral would need to be audited figures.
“However, e-tag figures will need to include auditing 3rd parties’ processes that do not fall within Sanral. The demand for the figures to be audited basically means Sanral can only release these once a per annum after the Auditor General has audited the agency,” the group said.
Mona said Sanral would continue to be vigilant and monitor its communication.