Man charged over refusal to pay e-tolls

A Randburg man is believed to be the first person to appear in court for refusing to pay e-tolls, it was reported on Wednesday.

According to court papers, Bulgarian motorist Dr Stoyan Hristov Stoychev got caught out on the e-toll charge after driving his Hyundai i30 without one of its number plates, changing the “C” on the number plate to an “O”, and swapping two of the numbers.

But a registered e-toll user had a Ford Bantam bakkie with the same number plate.

Beeld reported that it was the first such prosecution since e-tolls started on December 3 2013.

Stoychev appeared in the Pretoria magistrate’s court on Tuesday on 1907 charges – of which 903 are for alleged fraud of R15 000 for the use of falsified plates.

The rest relate to alleged transgressions of the National Road Traffic Act and the SA National Roads Agency Limited and National Roads Act.

He apparently secured the number plates with cable ties for easy removal, refused to pay toll fees, drove without number plates, changed his number plate, and did not display his licence disc properly.

Traffic officials lay in wait for him on the N1 freeway in Centurion on October 2 and nabbed him. He is currently on bail of R10 000.

Parties oppose e-tolls
The e-tolling system has caused much controversy since coming into effect in December 2013.

In January Gauteng premier David Makhura said the system placed a disproportionate burden on low and middle income households. 

“In its current form, the e-toll system is unaffordable and inequitable and places disproportionate burden on low and middle income households,” he said. “It is also administratively too cumbersome.”

In its announcement in October of the initial findings of its survey looking at the impact of e-tolls on small businesses, the Democratic Alliance said Gauteng’s e-tolls were killing jobs and businesses in the province.

“The results so far reveal the e-tolls bill, for a sample of 50 small businesses, amounting to R850 000 so far this year,” MP Toby Chance said in a statement issued at the time. 

“The highest cumulative bill incurred by a single enterprise was a staggering R101 761.83.” That was over R10 000 a month, he said.

Ironically, the DA and the ANC seemed to agree that there was not adequate public consultation around e-tolling. 

The Mail & Guardian reported in October how the ANC had said there was no transparency in the South African National Roads Agency’s (Sanral’s) dealings and the cost of e-tolling was prohibitive – therefore it should be abolished.

‘We will cremate’ e-tolls
Protesters burnt their unpaid e-toll bills on top of an empty coffin while singing the national anthem outside Sanral’s offices in Pretoria in October.

“Today we bury a stillborn that was born in December last year, and before December this year, we will cremate him,” a Congress of South African Trade Unions (Costatu) member said in reference to the electronic tolling system. – Sapa, Staff Reporter

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