By Hennie Pretorius, journalist, Justmoney
Earlier this month transport minister, Dipuo Peters, extended the seven day payment option to 51 days. Discounts are also offered to those who have driven through e-tolls.
Non-registered users pay inflated rates compared to registered users and as an incentive to settle their bill will be given 60% off if they pay within 51 days. Registered users will receive a 48% e-tag holder discount. ‘Time-of-day’ discounts are on offer, as well as ‘frequent user’ discounts. Furthermore, A2 light motor vehicles are offered a R450 monthly cap.
To date there are over one million non-paying e-toll users. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson, Nathi Mncube, had confirmed that two prosecutors have been assigned to assist South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) in bringing non-paying e-toll users to justice, if found guilty, offenders are liable to a fine or jail time.
But getting motorists to pay will still be an uphill battle for the government. More recently Tiyani Rikhotso, spokesperson for Peters, announced prosecution of non-paying e-toll users is to be “halted." One of the reasons mentioned is inaccurate billing. Rikhotso suggested improvements to the system should be made before taking any action against e-toll users.
Since e-tolls were introduced in Gauteng (3 December 2013) South African National Roads Agency Limited Sanral, has struggled to convince road users to pay their e-toll accounts.
Socioeconomic effect investigated
Gauteng Premier David Makhura has appointed an advisory panel to assess the situation, focusing on the socioeconomic effect of e-tolls.
As mentioned in a press release by Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) both the NPA and Sanral are “making a mockery of the process” as they are not willing to wait for Makhura’s report regarding socioeconomic effects before taking legal steps against non-compliant e-toll road users.
The JPSA is in support of the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) who have initiated a “Rule of Law” campaign in an attempt to establish a ‘solid’ defence for those summoned by the NPA for not paying their e-toll fees.
JPSA believes a “properly thought out and mounted defence will lead to the acquittal of those accused.”
Financial and legal implications
As no ruling has yet been made regarding e-tolls, legal experts are reluctant to comment on a way forward or the implications of been found guilty.
It was pointed out though that currently there is no law forcing e-toll users to pay, and courts are concerned about the complexity of attempting to prosecute over a million people who are currently refusing to pay.
What can you do if you got a summons?
JPSA supports OUTA’s “Rule of Law” campaign, where OUTA has built a 'strong' defence opposing Sanral, and advises anyone who receives a summons from the NPA to contact OUTA