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NPA prosecutors to deal with non-payment of e-tolls

Sapa

The NPA has assigned prosecutors establish whether the activities by some motorists constitute an offence in terms of the Sanral Act.

On September 25, President Jacob Zuma signed into law the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill, giving the go-ahead for e-tolling in Gauteng. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Prosecutors have been appointed to work with the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to deal with non-payment of e-tolls, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Tuesday.

“We have assigned two prosecutors to work with Sanral with the view to establish whether the activities by some motorists constitute an offence in terms of the Sanral Act,” NPA spokesperson Nathi Mncube said. 

“Section 27(5)(a) makes it an offence to refuse or fail to pay the amount of toll that is due and is punishable on conviction with imprisonment or a fine.” 

On September 25, President Jacob Zuma signed into law the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill, giving the go-ahead for e-tolling in Gauteng. The e-toll system was implemented across Gauteng on December 3, following several court challenges and widespread public opposition. Many motorists have refused to get an e-tag or pay their e-tolls. 

Last week, Gauteng Premier David Makhura announced a panel of 15 people appointed to assess the socio-economic impact of e-tolls in the province. The panel, which will meet for the first time on Thursday, will assess the effect of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project on the economy and on Gauteng residents. 

Proposed solutions
It would invite proposals and submissions from residents on proposed solutions. The panel would submit its findings and recommendations to the provincial government. Despite the review, Makhura urged Gauteng motorists to continue paying their e-toll bills. 

The Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) on Tuesday said the appointment of prosecutors focusing on e-tolls was no surprise. “Sanral’s e-tolls marketing strategy has always involved a strong element of fear mongering by threatening people with criminal records and other life-changing consequences for resisting their unjust and unduly expensive system of e-tolling,” JPSA chairperson Howard Dembovsky said in a statement. 

He questioned why the NPA would prosecute people after Makhura’s announcement that the review panel would conclude its work and hand over a report to the transport minister by November 30. 

“Anyone who thought that Sanral and the NPA would have any regard or respect for due process was clearly fooling themselves,” he said. “As things stand, there are well over one million people who are going to have to be prosecuted and two prosecutors, operating in the already overburdened South African criminal justice courts system don’t stand any chance of making a significant dent in this figure,” said Dembovsky. – Sapa

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