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‘It’s not over,’ say anti-toll activists

"I am not paying for those bloody e-tolls! Never," tweeted suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi on Monday morning. As gantries activated at midnight on Monday, Vavi was not alone in advocating that the fight against the controversial system should continue.

Cosatu, the Democratic Alliance (DA), the Justice Project, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) and even the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have all tried, whether by civil disobedience or law, to stop the tolling of Johannesburg's roads. On Monday, the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) joined the fray but it failed to have the project interdicted by the high court in Pretoria.

  • Timeline: Court battles and opposition to e-tolls

The case was struck off the role, with Judge Maria Jansen ordering the FF Plus to pay the costs of the application. Jansen said the applicants had sought wide-ranging relief, in a case with potential constitutional implications, without putting forward a strong case.

FF Plus spokesperson advocate Anton Alberts said the party was disappointed and that they did not rule out the possibility of a review application. While the decision to dismiss the urgent application cannot be appealed, the party still has the option of going to court on another cause of action – possibly to ask the court to review and set aside the decision to implement e-tolling.

Cosatu, in a statement signed by a number of religious leaders, said it was "disappointed" that government had opted to activate the gantries in the face of wide-spread opposition to the tolling system. The federation hinted at the possibility of more protest action.

"The use of legal coercion and e-tolling 'kitskonstabels' is not a solution, but it may appear to be 'the only way' – to those determined to force this discredited system down the throats of our people. Increasing confrontation may result in the adoption of undesirable and even violent tactics," said Cosatu.

Burn down the gantries
The EFF was more blunt, openly threatening to burn down the gantries.

But Outa said this was not the way to oppose e-tolling. Instead, Outa said that the system could be opposed if enough people simply refused to purchase e-tags.

Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenhage said, "We believe that sufficient numbers within society will exercise their democratic rights not to purchase an e-tag and will practise peaceful resistance actions and protests against the ill-conceived e-toll system, in order to bring it down."

The DA promised to announce its plans on e-tolls at a briefing on Tuesday. However, it has promised to challenge the constitutionality of the Bill under which e-tolls is being implemented.

DA Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane said the Bill was incorrectly tagged.

"We believe that the incorrect tagging of the e-toll Bill effectively prevented the provincial legislature from deliberating on the e-toll Bill on behalf of the affected people. The e-tolls Bill allows the South African National Roads Agency Limited [Sanral] to toll roads in Gauteng and every other province," said Maimane.

But Sanral chief executive Nazir Alli in an opinion piece published by EWN on Monday, urged road users to purchase e-tags.

He sought to dispel so-called "myths" around the real costs involved and intentions behind e-tolling, and claimed that over 800 000 road users had already registered.

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Sarah Evans
Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans interned at the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley for three years before completing an internship at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane). She went on to work as a Mail & Guardian news reporter with areas of interest including crime, law, governance and the nexus between business and politics. 

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